WITH just 24 hours before the highly anticipated Pretoria/Tshwane Absa Premiership derby at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, both SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns know the significance of this encounter. The situation is simple: If SuperSport win, they will retain pole position in the Absa Premiership for another weekend.
However, if Sundowns triumph, the Brazilians will ascend to the summit of the log for the first time in the last two months – a feat that will be celebrated at their headquarters. This has added more spice to the match this weekend.
Last week, Gavin Hunt, the SuperSport United coach told reporters that the Sundowns game will be a test of character for his charges who are still recovering from a 3-0 drubbing by reigning league champions, Orlando Pirates a fortnight ago.
The loss to Pirates was the first defeat for Matsantsantsa this season. But their opponents are also still hurting following defeat by Kaizer Chiefs in their last league match in their home venue, Loftus.
The defeat to Chiefs was particular unpalatable for the self-styled Brazilians. They played well, they dominated play and dictated terms for Amakhosi. But they lacked aggression and precision up-front – something that must be worrying Dutch-born Sundowns mentor, Johan Neeskens.
Had Sundowns beaten Chiefs at Loftus two weeks ago, they would have replaced SuperSport at the top of the log. But that is all “what ifs” now.
The visiting Sundowns team will once again rely on striker, Katlego Mphela, who has scored nine goals (and leads the Absa Premiership Top goalscorers so far). One man though, Mozambiquen Elias Pelembe has been a revelation in Sundowns colours this season.
At times, he has been the difference between Sundowns and their opponents – a genius who has curved a niche of rising to the occasion whenever an act of individual brilliance is required. His contract is due for renewable but talk at the Brazilians camp is that the attacking midfielder is in no hurry to put pen to paper.
Pelembe might be banking on some impressive performances that will undoubtedly hike his going rate and his worth.
Sibusiso Zuma, the larger than life SuperSport winger, is likely to make his maiden appearance in United colours.
Since joining SuperSport from Vasco da Gama, Zuma has been haunted by injuries that have hampered his progress. Hunt has welcomed his return as he desperately need to inject pace in SuperSport’s attack.
What is certain though about this match is, the winner will take all.
Kick-off is at 6pm.-PSL