Chiefs sit at the summit and looking over their shoulders are the defending champions who are just a stone throw away, trailing Amakhosi by three points.
We take a look at the five reasons why Sundowns could emerge victorious and go level on points with the Glamour Boys ahead of the final three league games.
When you look at Sundowns’ squad, Pitso Mosimane can easily rotate his team because he boasts players who can slot in two or more roles with ease. For example, Mosa Lebusa can double up as a left-back and centre-back. Lyle Lakay plays the whole of the left flank while Rivaldo Coetzee is able to play at the heart of midfield or in the rear guard. These kinds of players make it somewhat easier for “Jingles” to rotate his squad without losing much fluidity as opposed to Chiefs, who have been struggling to fill the void left behind by George Maluleka.
The fact that Chiefs’ leading marksman Samir Nurkovic will be missing from this game through suspension after he picked a fourth yellow card, makes life a lot harder for Amakhosi going forward. I suppose when Nurkovic was shown that yellow card, Mosimane and his defenders probably fisted the air and said: ‘one less thing to worry about’. The absence of the Serbian forward will certainly leave Chiefs’ attack limping, especially since Khama Billiat – arguably Chiefs most skilful and creative player – has been struggling to turn it on when the team needs him.
The majority of Sundowns players have won the league with Sundowns and they are led by a technical team that guided the side to many-a-league title and domestic cup, not forgetting the Caf Champions League and Caf Super Cup. Sundowns know how to handle the pressure and they know how to win big games. They simply have the knowhow and that is why in the last couple of seasons, Downs have either finished as league champions or runners-up. In contrast, an overwhelming majority of Chiefs players have never won any piece of silverware.
Sundowns should be extra motivated to win all three points against the Glamour Boys seeing that they are their direct competition for the league crown. This encounter is a lot different than when Sundowns play teams that are fighting relegation or pushing their agenda to finish in the top eight. This Chiefs side have been at the top from day one and Sundowns would love to knock them off their perch and overtake them to the title. If Downs are to stand a chance of that, they will need to beat Amakhosi to make the playing field level, at least on points as Chiefs have a greater goal difference going into the final stretch.
Pitso, Middendorp beef
What is interesting about this title run-in is that both coaches are looking desperate to claim the championship and their egos will certainly be bruised if one loses against the other. I won’t go as far as saying they don’t like each other, but the low blows and jabs exchanged by the duo this season have raised eyebrows on how they personally feel about one other. Midderndrop is on course to win his first league title ever, and it would be much to the delight of Mosimane to be the one standing in the way of his success.