Battle of the titans…

Battle of the titans. That is what awaits the bulk of our national team players here this afternoon.

Tinashe Nengomasha
Tinashe Nengomasha

Pretoria giants Mamelodi Sundowns, with four Zimbabweans in their squad, host Johannesburg-based Kaizer Chiefs, who boast five. Kickoff is at 15:30. Both teams will most likely be captained by Zimbabweans. Tinashe Nengomasha is sure to stand-in for the injured Itumeleng Khune at Chiefs and Method Mwanjale will lead the Downs squad.

Former Warriors captain Esrom Nyandoro has been out of the Sundowns squad since the beginning of the season, but that does not mean he is out of reckoning, as is Lincoln Zvasiya in the opposite camp.

The Pretoria giants also have sharp-shooter, Nyasha Mushekwi, scorer of a goal in the 5-2 demolition of Santos at the Athlone Stadium Wednesday night. Chiefs lost 0-2 away to Supersport United on the same day.

Jimmy Jambo, Thomas Sweswe and Willard Katsande are within selection for The Amakhosi in the Loftus Versfeld Stadium top-of-the-log clash. Both camps admit that the outcome could determine who wins the league, if they can catch Supersport, who were three points clear before the weekend. Second-placed Sundowns are on 25 points while Chiefs lie fourth with 21.

Nengomasha knows about the battle, and the reward of winning.

“This will be our second big clash in a row and we do not want to lose it,” he told The Zimbabwean. “It will be a tough match because they are very strong, but we are ready for the situation. Having lost on Wednesday, this is the chance to pick ourselves up and fight for the league. We have what it takes and believe in ourselves, which is the most important thing.”

He admitted that with seven points adrift, Supersport was well ahead, but argued that it was still within reach.

“The league is a marathon and we still have to play the same teams in the second round. We can still come around and win it. All we need to do is have the nerve to convert the numerous chances we have created in most of our games.”

The Glamour Boys will be without inspirational defender, Dominic Isaacs, who is suspended for the game but will welcome Thomas Sweswe who missed the outing in Polokwane due to suspension.

“We are delighted Thomas Sweswe is back for the next game; either Brent Lawler or Lincoln Zvasiya will partner him,” said Chiefs coach, Vladimir Vermezovic.

Form favours Sundowns, who will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to eight games.

They have 15 points from a possible 21 in their last seven matches – with four wins, one draw and a loss from their six home matches this season.

Chiefs are winless in three games, failing to score a single goal in that sequence. The Soweto giants have two wins, two draws and two losses from their six away matches.

In head-to-head stats, Chiefs are the better side in 52 league matches since 1985. They have 20 times against their opponents’ 17. 15 matches were stalemates.

Sundowns have won 13 of the 26 home games against Chiefs, suffering six defeats in the process. Last season territorial advantage worked – 1-0 to Chiefs in the first half of the season and 2-0 to Sundowns in the return game.

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