Mamelodi Sundowns will look for an immediate response following their first 2020-21 DStv Premiership defeat, when they host Golden Arrows in a top-of-the-table clash at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday.
Kick-off is at 5pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).
League leaders Sundowns suffered their first defeat of the season – a full 22 matches into the campaign – when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Kaizer Chiefs on April 25. Gaston Sirino netted the Tshwane side’s opener.
The Brazilians have claimed 22 points from 11 home matches this season, though they have not won as hosts since beating Baroka FC 2-0 in mid-February.
“Good team, I think they’ve shown good consistency throughout the season. A good team with a clear playing philosophy and structure in all schemes,” said Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena of Arrows.
“We know the strength of this team and the quality of the team that we are facing, and we know the work we have to do in order to control them.”
Third-placed Arrows extended their unbeaten run to eight matches when they were held 0-0 at Chippa United on April 25. The Durban side have recorded no less than 12 draws this league season.
Abafana Bes’thende have claimed 21 points from 12 away matches this season, with their only defeat on the road coming against Cape Town City in January.
“Proud of the troops, they aren’t showing any cracks and I’m proud of the point we were able to get against Chippa,” said Arrows head coach Mandla Ncikazi.
“If you look at your position on the log it will stress you, yes it would’ve been nice to move back up to second, but it is what it is. Maybe there is still an opportunity for us to get back up to second. But next up is Sundowns, who knows, maybe we can get all the points there.”
In head-to-head stats, Arrows and Sundowns have met in 39 league matches since the 2000-01 season. The Brazilians have claimed 20 wins compared to 10 for Abafana Bes’thende, while nine games have been drawn. The Tshwane side has won 11 of their 19 home matches against their Durban counterparts, suffering two defeats in the process.
When the teams met earlier this season, at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in December 2020, they played out a 1-1 draw: ‘Downs led early through Mothobi Mvala, but Arrows hit back through Michael Gumede.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Themba Zwane: Peter Shalulile’s injury has come as a huge blow to Sundowns and in his absence, Zwane needs to step up to the mark. The talented forward started the season in hot form but has only scored two league goals since the turn of the year and will be eager to get back to his best in front of goal.
Thapelo Morena: The Sundowns speedster will have an important part to play at both ends of the pitch. Both in providing width for his team in attack and getting back on defence with Arrows a genuine threat on transition. Morena’s versatility is well documented and while he is more of a right-back today than anything else, having yet to register a single assist or goal in the league this season is something he’d be eager to change.
Sifiso Mlungwana: The Arrows shot-stopper has played every minute of the league season thus far and has been extremely consistent throughout the campaign. In total, Mlungwana has kept eight clean sheets this season and goes into the midweek match on the back of successive shutouts. That said, he will have to be at his best to make it nine for the campaign against a Sundowns team that will be desperate to get back to winning ways.
Pule Mmodi: One of the key members of an Arrows squad that has taken the league by surprise this season, Mmodi is a very talented winger that will be aiming to take advantage of the space that will be afforded to him by the league leaders. He has already scored four times this season and will be hoping to add a few more before the end of the current campaign.
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