Mamelodi Sundowns back in the hunt for points against Stellenbosch United
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CAPE TOWN - MAMELODI Sundowns return to local action after strong performances in the Nedbank Cup and CAF Champions League matches over the past fortnight.
During this time, Sundowns netted 11 goals and conceded two. Four of these goals were scored in their midweek match against Gladafrica Championship side Polokwane City.
The goals were scored in the first half, and Sundowns brought on their full complement of reserves in the second stanza, with the aim of resting key players for today’s Dstv Premiership match against Stellenbosch at the Danie Craven Stadium in the Winelands (kick-off 1pm).
Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi said after the game: “In the second half, we started looking at the game against Stellenbosch on Saturday.
"We were giving a chance to the players who have not been playing regularly.
"The game's intensity dropped drastically, and our co-ordination was lost. Some of the players came in and played but our way of playing, position, penetration and dominance were not as clinical as the first half."
The match-winning form of both sides coming into the match suggests it could be a close affair, which has often been the case in their outings over the past two seasons.
However, in four previous meetings, Sundowns are ahead 4-0.
Sundowns are the only unbeaten side in the Premiership and have won their last three matches.
They are one point clear at the top of the standings, with Golden Arrows, after 19 matches, in second place with 35 points.
After 16 matches, Sundowns have the best defensive record in the Premiership with seven goals conceded, the only team with a single digit in the goals against column.
Stellenbosch have won their last two matches and are in ninth place on the standings. Before that, they suffered two defeats in a row.
Their log statistics show they concede more than they score.
In their midweek match, they scored a comefrom-behind 3-1 win against hosts Baroka FC. Four days earlier they toppled neighbours Cape Town City 2-1 in the Mother City derby.
This kind of form will raise hopes in the Stellenbosch ranks, and if they can overcome 'stage fright' playing against one of Africa's strongest teams, they will give themselves a fair chance for success.
The rest of the action this weekend will be Nedbank Cup quarter-final matches.
The first will be Chippa United versus Richards Bay FC at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape today (kick-off 3.30pm).
Richards Bay are the Gladafrica Championship log leaders and should prove to be a good test for Chippa who are blowing hot and cold in recent matches.
Cup action continues tomorrow with two more quarter-final clashes, the first of which will be played in Cape Town, at the Danie Craven Stadium, between two Gladafrica Championship sides Cape Town All Stars and Pretoria Callies.
Callies have fared better in the league this year and should have the upper hand against hosts Cape Town All Stars.
Whatever the outcome of this match, there will be at least one Gladafrica Championship side in the semi-finals.
Tomorrow’s late match will be an all-premiership affair in the Vhembe derby at the Thohoyandou Stadium in Limpopo (kick-off at 6pm).
Hosts Black Leopards, who have been in dreadful form lately with three defeats in a row, are up against the improving Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM). On current form, TTM will start as favourites.
The remaining quarter-final will be between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.
Because of the teams’ domestic and continental commitments over the next three weeks, the tie will be played on April 15.
Meanwhile, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has marked the passing of isilo Samabandla, King Goodwill Zwelithini Kabhekuzulu.
In a statement yesterday, the PSL announced: “The League conveys heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family, the Zulu nation and South Africans at large.
“The PSL will observe a moment of silence ahead of this week’s Nedbank Cup, Dstv Premiership, Gladafrica Championship fixtures.”