Morgan Gould has labelled Mamelodi Sundowns as favourites for tomorrow night’s Absa Premiership showdown, even though it is Kaizer Chiefs who are top of the table and holding all the cards in the title race.
The defending champions will take the field at FNB Stadium with a three point lead and a game in hand on the Brazilians, knowing that victory will leave them odds-on to be champions once more.
Even a point will not be a bad result for Amakhosi, who have not lost a league game at home since Stuart Baxter took over at the club at the start of the 2012/13 season.
Sundowns, however, do come into this game in a rich vein of form, having won their last five league games to revive their title hopes under Pitso Mosimane.
“They are the favourites,” said Gould yesterday at the Chiefs Village.
“Looking at what they have assembled, and their form, they are favourites when it comes to this game. But at the end of the day … we need to do the work on the field and see what comes out of it.”
The Chiefs centre-back’s argument does not really stand up when one considers both Chiefs’ record at FNB Stadium and their exceptional run of overall form since November of last year.
Since losing to Ajax Cape Town on November 5, Baxter’s side have assumed total control of the league by picking up 40 points from a possible 45 in their last 15 league games. Chiefs may have been knocked out of the Champions League, but domestically they are still very much the team to beat.
Chiefs already took down Sundowns 1-0 in the first round in Tshwane on January 23, an early Wayne Arendse own-goal followed by an efficient defensive display from the team in black and gold.
“They (Sundowns) are going to come out all guns blazing,” said Gould of tomorrow’s match.
“So we are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game. The first game was 1-0 and you wouldn’t say we closed shop but we kept what was given to us.
“They will come with the same mentality. They are favourites, they will come buzzing and will want to show why they are competing for the league … it is going to be a good game.”
Chiefs could well welcome back both goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and striker Knowledge Musona for the clash with Sundowns.
“Knowledge will be checked this morning to see if it is possible for him to get back into full training. Itu is back in full training, he will be monitored, and if there is no ill effects … he will be available for selection if required,” said Baxter yesterday.
Baxter added that Wednesday night’s victory over Golden Arrows, which restored Chiefs’ three point lead at the top over Sundowns, meant that the pressure was a little more on the Brazilians than Amakhosi.
“We travelled to Arrows knowing that if we slipped up it brought the knife closer. Now we feel we have that little bit of breathing space,” said Baxter.
“We feel we need to use that to express ourselves and make sure we give a big performance. I hope the players feel the breathing space and use that in a positive way. I don’t think Sundowns have that breathing space.
“They have the knife at their throat in that if they don’t win, they can see us pulling away. If they win, all it does is make it a fight again.” - The Star