City out to stop ruthless Sundowns train

Cape Town City will be the latest team to try and stop the Mamelodi Sundowns train in its tracks when they host the defending DStv Premiership champions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 5:30pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).

City suffered a third league defeat of the 2021/22 season when they were beaten 2-0 at AmaZulu on November 7, preventing them from racking up a hat-trick of wins after defeating Golden Arrows and Chippa in the two games prior.

The Citizens have claimed eight points from five home matches this season, with their last result as hosts a 1-0 win over Chippa in early November.

“Obviously we were very disappointed with the performance and result against AmaZulu. It was at the back end of a tough week after losing the MTN8 final [to Sundowns], possibly psychologically, the players weren’t in the right space. But I don’t think we can use that as an excuse, our performance against AmaZulu was simply not good enough,” said City head coach Eric Tinkler.

“We want to see a good response from the team this weekend. A tough game against Sundowns, but it is at home, we need to be positive, dictate, play without fear and we need to get back to winning ways – that is very important,” he added.

Sundowns kept up their amazing form in the league with a 4-0 triumph at Marumo Gallants on November 7, with goals from Themba Zwane, Peter Shalulile [two] and Pavol Safranko. They are unbeaten in nine games since the start of the season and have yet to concede even a single goal.

The Brazilians have claimed 10 points from four away matches this season. Their only blemish was a 0-0 draw at Chippa United in August 2021.

Even so, Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi believes there is more to come from his troops.

“To be honest, there’s a lot of positives. Another clean sheet. Very important for us. Four goals. A very good outcome,” Mngqithi said following their win over Gallants.

“I am greedy when it comes to goals and we are a few behind our target for this stage of the league campaign. But we still have one more game in this cycle because the last cycle we scored less than what we wanted to score. But the number of clean sheets have already been achieved in this cycle.

“The players are really working very hard. The spirit is looking good in the group. Everyone is putting a shoulder in what we are trying to do,” he added.

In head-to-head stats, City and Sundowns have met in 10 league matches since the 2016/17 season. The Citizens have claimed five wins compared to four for the Brazilians, while just one game has been drawn. The Cape side has recorded three wins and two defeats from five home matches in the rivalry.

Sundowns completed a league ‘double’ over City last season, winning 2-0 in the Cape in November 2020, thanks to goals from Lyle Lakay and Keletso Makgalwa, and 3-0 in Tshwane in June 2021, with another strike from Lakay and a brace by Peter Shalulile.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Cape Town City

Thabo Nodada: The dynamic midfielder will have an important role to play in disrupting the visitors who will be eager to boss possession in the Mother City. Nodada has loads of energy and has the superb knack of finding himself in the right place at the right time, while he has shown to possess genuine quality in the final third.

Hugo Marques: The Angolan shot-stopper will have his work cut out for him against a free-scoring Sundowns unit who make the trip down to Cape Town in superb form. Marques has kept three clean sheets in nine league matches this season.

Mamelodi Sundowns

Peter Shalulile: The Namibian forward has been in great touch this season and has scored eight goals in nine league matches; including a brace against Marumo last time out. His record for the Brazilians is unbelievable and with him in this sort of form, it will be very difficult to stop Sundowns from winning yet another league title.

Andile Jali: An unsung hero of Sundowns’ terrific start to the 2021/22 season. While the attack and defence has received a lot of plaudits – and rightfully so – it is easy to forget about the men in the middle of the park and Jali’s form has people calling for him to make an imminent return to the national team.

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