Stakes high as title-chasers Sundowns and Bucs square off in crucial clash
Match between frontrunners at Orlando Stadium is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the season
Monday night’s blockbuster showdown between title-chasing hosts Orlando Pirates and premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium is expected to deliver much more than just the three points on the table.
This is one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season and Sundowns skipper Hlompho Kekana conceded that the stakes will be high when they tackle the old enemy in their own backyard in Orlando.
“There is more to this game than just the three points on offer and we will have to give a good account of ourselves to be able to get a favourable result‚” he said.
“We know what is ahead of us — this is a football match between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns. We know that we are going to the backyard of a powerhouse of South African football but we are going there to give it our all.”
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane said a few days ago that he will be content with a draw in a game that is often tinged with high emotion. Kekana echoed Mosimane by saying anything but defeat will be acceptable at this crucial stage of the campaign.
“It is important to go there and try to get all the three points on offer to boost our case on the log standings‚” he said. “To be able to win this match‚ we will have to stick to our processes and be disciplined in our approach.
“I know that it’s not going to be easy because just like us they are chasing the league title. But we will have to dig deep in front of what is expected to be a hostile crowd‚” he said.
Kekana said they will not allow themselves to be swayed by developments at Pirates after it emerged that the Bucs will be without key midfielder Vincent Pule‚ who is suspended‚ and Xola Mlambo‚ who is an injury doubt.
“It would be naive of us to think that they are going to be weak or easy because Pule is definitely out and Mlambo may also not be available‚” Kekana said. “I am sure that those who are going to replace them will be able to carry the team and they will be motivated to impress the fans and the coach.
“In high-profile matches like these‚ it is about who wants it more and we must be motivated enough to deal with whatever they are going to throw at us.”
Sundowns will be without suspended Uruguayan attacker Gaston Sirino.