Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns are set to go toe-to-toe in a titanic Absa Premiership battle at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Kick-off is at 8:15pm.
The game has been billed as an early season title decider and with the Amakhosi lingering five points off the pace, a win for the top of the table Brazilians will open a considerable gap between the two South African giants.
That being said, a win for Chiefs will reduce the deficit to a mere two points, and could prove to be the victory that kick-starts their charge.
An added subplot is the recent Telkom Knockout final clash between the two sides. ‘Downs were very impressive on the day and raced to glory with a 3-1 win over the ‘cup specialists’ in Durban last month.
January is a big month for Chiefs with a Soweto Derby clash against Orlando Pirates coming up on the 30th, but captain Siphiwe Tshabalala is eager for his troops to concentrate on this weekend’s ‘must-win’ game.
“We just have to continue playing as a team, keep working as a team and make sure we take our chances,” said Tshabalala.
“This is a new game, New Year. We have to focus on our objective. We are ready for the game, it won’t be an easy game but a tough one. Each and every player wants to play in this game, this is how you are tested.
“It is a big month for us, but we will take it one game at a time – the big one is this Saturday, that is where our focus is.”
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Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Hlompho Kekana is expecting fireworks in Soweto this weekend.
“We are ready, preparations went very well and the guys can’t wait to get going again,” said Kekana.
“This fixture always has fireworks, we know what we up against, but I’m sure if we apply ourselves correctly we will win the game.
Pitso Mosimane’s troops ended 2015 with four consecutive wins in the league and Kekana admits the Tshwane side are desperate to keep that run going in the New Year.
“We want to continue where we left off last year. keep the good feeling in the camp and build on our lead at the top,” Kekana concluded.
In head-to-head stats, Chiefs and Sundowns have met in 60 league matches since 1985.
The Amakhosi have 25 wins compared to 18 for the Brazilians, while 17 matches have been drawn.
Chiefs have won 16 of their 30 home matches against Sundowns, suffering five defeats in the process.
Last season the Amakhosi took four points off the Brazilians, drawing 1-1 at home before winning 1-0 away in Tshwane.