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Football | Absa Premiership

Justin Shonga and Ricardo Nascimento © Backpagepix

Sundowns eager to stop Bucs in their tracks



Mamelodi Sundowns will look to close the gap at the top of the Absa Premiership table when they host leaders Orlando Pirates at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Kick-off is at 3:30pm, live on SuperSport.

Sundowns remained unbeaten in the league this season and moved up to third place on the table with a 3-1 win over Free State Stars at Loftus Versfeld in midweek with Gaston Sirino netting two goals in a man-of-the-match performance.

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The win was the first at home for the Brazilians this season, who have taken a total of just six points from four matches as hosts in 2018/19.

Pirates also extended their unbeaten run in the league to eight matches with a 2-1 away win over Polokwane in midweek, with goals from Marcelo and Justin Shonga. The Soweto side has taken 18 points from a possible 24 in the sequence.

The Buccaneers have claimed 13 points from six away matches this season and suffered just one defeat in the process: 0-1 at Bloemfontein Celtic on August 19.

Previous starting XI:

Sundowns’ line-up from their 3-1 win over Stars on November 7: Pieterse, Morena, Madisha, Lebusa, Lakay, Maboe, Jali, Kekana, Ngoma (Mabunda 62’), Sirino (Mahlambi 89’), Brockie (Ali Meza 79’).

Pirates’ line-up from their 2-1 win over Polokwane on November 6: Mabokgwane, Mbekile (Kutumela 58’), Munetsi, Jele, Marcelo, Mntambo, Lorch (Mabaso 70’), Makola, Qalinge, Shonga (Mahachi 83’), Mako.

FORM AND FIXTURES

Mamelodi Sundowns

Season league results (most recent first): WWDDWDDWD

Next five league fixtures: Black Leopards (A), SuperSport United (A), Maritzburg United (H), Baroka FC (H), Kaizer Chiefs (A)

Orlando Pirates

Season league results (most recent first): WWDDWDWWLLWD

Next five league fixtures: Maritzburg United (H), Free State Stars (A), Highlands Park (A), Chippa United (H), Baroka FC (H)

HEAD-TO-HEAD

LAST 10 LEAGUE RESULTS

Season Result Scorers

2013/14 Pirates 0-1 Sundowns Kekana
2013/14 Sundowns 0-1 Pirates Masuku
2014/15 Sundowns 0-3 Pirates Erasmus 2, Majoro
2014/15 Pirates 1-1 Sundowns Bacela; Billiat
2015/16 Sundowns 2-0 Pirates Castro, Billiat
2015/16 Pirates 1-2 Sundowns Makola; Castro, Billiat
2016/17 Sundowns 6-0 Pirates T. Zwane, Tau 2, Nascimento, Morena 2
2016/17 Pirates 0-2 Sundowns Billiat, Zakri
2017/18 Pirates 1-3 Sundowns van Heerden; Kekana 2, Laffor
2017/18 Sundowns 1-3 Pirates Tau; Nyauza, Makola, Memela

LEAGUE RECORD (since 1985)

Home

P W D L GF GA

Sundowns 34 14 10 10 46 34
Pirates 33 10 7 16 32 43

Away

P W D L GF GA

Sundowns 33 16 7 10 43 32
Pirates 34 10 10 14 34 46

Total

P W D L GF GA

Sundowns 67 30 17 20 89 66
Pirates 67 20 17 30 66 89

What the teams had to say

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane:

“I think we had a good game in our last match against Free State which we won,” said Mosimane.

“What helped us in that game was the early goals. We have been struggling to get goals, but we completed the goals.

“But we are not yet there. We are in construction and everybody must be patient with us.

“We have lost important players. Free flowing players in the team.

“We should be patient. It will come right. Some teams take five years to get it right and haven’t won.

“I mean, if Liverpool can take years to win a trophy, we should be patient. It is not going to come now.

“Pirates will not be an easy team to beat. They have done well this season and it will be a difficult game on Saturday.”

Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic:

“I want to give credit to the players and the technical team for the work we did against Polokwane,” said Sredojevic.

“The three points meant a lot to us. Winning that game means a lot to us because this confidence you can only get with winning.

“The biggest positive is not the three points and winning against a very good team, but the biggest point is that we can introduce several players that could show that they have equal quality.

“We don't just have a starting eleven, we have players that can impact the game and give a contribution.

“Sundowns will be a difficult game, but we will talk after the game only.”

Mamelodi Sundowns key players

Gaston Sirino: The Uruguayan has proved an important attacking option for Sundowns this season. His intelligent movement brings his fellow attackers into play, while his sharp finishing has also caught the eye. He also bagged a brace in his last match which shows he is a real threat in front of goal.

Ricardo Nascimento: Whether faced with Justin Shonga or Thembinkosi Lorch, the Sundowns defender Ricardo Nascimento will face a tough test in terms of physicality and aerial challenges. He has been key for Sundowns this season in defence.

Orlando Pirates key players

Justin Shonga: The striker is a key figure in attack for Pirates. His pace and skill will cause numerous problems for the Sundowns defence. He not only scores goals, but he creates them for his teammates as well.

Thembinkosi Lorch: The forward is enjoying his football at the moment having grabbed two goals during

Bucs’s win over AmaZulu a fortnight ago. Lorch will be eager to continue his good form and help his side win against Sundowns. He will be expected to create space and scoring opportunities for his teammates.



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