The meeting of Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns is the undoubted highlight of the first round of Absa Premiership matches in the New Year, and the encounter at the FNB Stadium today could well be something very special.
The match kicks off at 3:30pm (SA, CAT, GMT+2) and can be seen live on SS4 from 3pm.
Eight Zimbabweans feature for the two sides: Esrom Nyandoro, Lionel Mtizwa, Nyasha Mushekwi and Method Mwanjale for the Brazilians and Chiefs have hotshot Knowledge Musona, Thomas Sweswe, Tinashe Nengomasha and Zhaimu Jambo.
Not only does the clash involve the league’s top two teams based on the present standings — Sundowns lead the way with 27 points, Chiefs are in second on 23 – but it also pits the PSL’s equal-best attack (Sundowns, 20 goals scored) against its best defence (Chiefs, seven goals conceded).
Add into the mix the numerous star players who will be on display, the fascinating tactical battle set to be fought between Vladimir Vermezovic and Antonio Lopez Habas and this fixture’s tendency to produce great matches, and you have a potential classic on your hands.
It’s too early in the season for it to be considered a title-deciding match, but there is no doubt that a win for either team today would be a huge boost for their aspirations.
Chiefs could cut the gap to Sundowns to just a single point — something which seemed inconceivable just a month ago when the Brazilians were the very definition of “runaway leaders”.
Yet a win for the Chloorkop team re-establishes their buffer at the top of the log and could be just the impetus they need to go on and claim the PSL title for the first time since 2007.
The main threat for Chiefs will certainly come from striker Musona, who has been in red-hot form this season.
The Zimbabwean, who tops the scoring charts with 13 league and cup goals, says he is looking forward to the weekend’s big showdown.
“We always enjoy playing teams like Sundowns and no question this is a big game for both clubs and I aim to go out and enjoy it,” said Musona.
“Playing Sundowns is the perfect way to begin 2011,” added goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who also insisted that there are other teams besides Chiefs and ’Downs who could challenge for the title.
He added: “Sundowns will be making a big mistake if they pay special attention to me because my team-mates will do the job for us,” the in-form hitman said.
“We always enjoy playing teams like Sundowns. It’s a big game for both clubs.
“I don’t want to make promises about scoring goals. The most important thing is to contribute to the success of the team.”
Musona is correct. When it comes to playing their title rivals, Chiefs are a different beast — one that adopts an expansive, free-scoring style of football as Pirates have twice found out. Perhaps Sundowns can change that today, but if they don’t, Amakhosi will just be one point adrift of top spot. — Sports Reporter/SuperSport