WHILE Kaizer Chiefs have had some time to allow their tag as Premier League champions to sink in, their rivals continue to fear the worst with only two matches remaining this season.
On Wednesday, SuperSport United and their Tshwane rivals Mamelodi Sundowns meet at Lucas Moripe Stadium — still desperate to achieve their targets for the campaign.
"We’ve said all year long that a Top 8 finish will set the tone for next season," SuperSport coach Gordon Igesund said on Tuesday. "The job is not done yet because our position is not secure. There are two teams below us that are also fighting for the Top 8. So the Sundowns game is very important to us."
Igesund knows what he is up against in a Sundowns side that has also recently got that winning feeling back. The Brazilians reversed a Premiership run of four matches without a win when they beat Platinum Stars 2-1 on Sunday and returned to second place on the league table.
SuperSport are five spots below and not only do they want to derail their rivals’ plans of earning a place in next year’s Caf Champions League, they’ll want to prove that they, too, have returned to winning ways. Igesund was pleased to see a clinical Matsatsantsa thump relegation candidates AmaZulu 3-1 in Durban at the weekend.
"We had hit a bit of a slump after we were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup (in the semifinals by Ajax Cape Town). But I have had to motivate the guys again because they were very demoralised after the way we lost. I’ve just got to keep them motivated for two more games. I think Sundowns are up for the challenge; we certainly are," said Igesund.
His counterpart Pitso Mosimane has in the past few weeks instructed his players to be slightly cautious and not to play as expansively as they are known to, given the quality in the team. But midfielder Hlompho Kekana suggested Sundowns could tweak this approach against their cross-town rivals.
"History doesn’t lie. Whenever these two sides have met there’ve been goals, end-to-end action and drama," said Kekana, who left it late to open his scoring account for the club this season when he netted against Dikwena on Sunday.
"Both of these clubs are obsessed with success and you can tell by the number of times the league has been won between them. A win will be important for either side and you have two coaches that are tactically sound. That doesn’t mean the game will be boring."
Both clubs will have top defenders missing, with SuperSport needing to replace the suspended Thamsanqa Teyise, while Siyanda Zwane serves the last of his two-match ban for Sundowns.