On Tuesday evening, Mamelodi Sundowns have an opportunity to give their Premier Soccer League (PSL) title aspirations a major boost as they look to restore a six-point gap between themselves and nearest rivals Orlando Pirates at the top of the leaderboard.
Masandawana are in fine form going into the midweek game against a rather unpredictable Golden Arrows as they are currently on a formidable run of 14 games without defeat in all competitions. Sundowns will also be confident going into what can only be described as a must-win encounter after recently putting aside reigning PSL champions Bidvest Wits.
Sundowns were highly impressive against the Students dominating the clash from start to finish which will make them clear favourites, especially when considering the form Abafana Bes’thende are in, winning just two of their last six encounters in the PSL.
But despite the Brazilians eager and determined to walk away from Loftus Versfeld Stadium with a further three points in the bag, the away side will not be too fazed, as they hold a decent record against the Tshwane giants.
In 29 previous meetings between the two side’s Sundowns have won 15 games, while Arrows have been victorious on eight occasions, with the most recent victory coming in the 2017 edition of the Nedbank Cup.
Sundowns though, have since gone on to win two games on the trot against the KwaZulu-Natal outfit, and while the last meeting earlier in the season saw Sundowns leave Durban with a slender 1-0 victory thanks to a Bangaly Soumahoro goal, Sundowns have grown in leaps and bounds ever since.
With players such as Percy Tau and Sibusiso Vilakazi in red-hot form, they will be relishing the prospect of coming up against a defence which has conceded 29 goals in just 26 games. Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane may opt to rest some of his more senior players as fatigue will surely begin to play its part.
However, one player aside from Tau who is likely to be on in the starting XI is playmaker Gaston Sirino. The Uruguayan has taken to South African football like a fish to water and has certainly instilled much confidence in Mosimane’s scouting policies.
While he yet to find the back of the net for his new side, his creativity adds an extra dimension to Sundowns’ glittering attack as he has been allowed to play with freedom behind the Sundowns’ attacking front three.
Meanwhile, if there is one element that Sundowns need to be wary of against Arrows, it is their attacking threat. With an attack filled with pace it could be a busy day for Sundowns’ experienced backline, consisting of Ricardo Nascimento and Wayne Arendse.
Arrows have scored as many as they have conceded (29) this season and Sundowns will need to watch out for dangerman Siphelele Magubane in particular, who is the club’s current top scorer with six goals to his name in the league.
Nonetheless, the signs are all there that promise a thrilling encounter in Tshwane, and surely if Sundowns are able to overcome their opponents, they will count themselves as favourites for PSL crown with only three more games remaining in the season.