Mamelodi Sundowns captain Esrom Nyandoro said the pressure will be on first-placed Ajax Cape Town in their top-of-the-table Absa Premiership football clash set for Lucas Moripe Stadium Wednesday night.
With the championship title race being hotly contested with just five rounds of matches remaining, Mamelodi Sundowns (50 points) stand a chance of returning to the top of the log if they defeat the Urban Warriors (52 points), while a draw in the fixture will bring third-placed Orlando Pirates, also on 50 points, and Kaizer Chiefs with 46 points and a game in hand, back into contention.
The youthful Urban Warriors outfit has had a splendid season, and were at their destructive best in their previous league match last month where they dismantled Pirates 3-0 in a win that moved them to first place on the log, while the Buccaneers slipped down the pecking order because of their inferior goal difference to Sundowns.
While Nyandoro admits that he has great admiration for how Ajax have played in this campaign, the Zimbabwean international midfielder expects the visitors to toil hard to walk away with any points when they meet.
Carried by striker Thulani Serero, and a wily coach in Foppe de Haan, Ajax have a team that is the most fluent in the country.
“If I had to make a pick, then I would say that Ajax deserve to win the league this season based on their consistent form, I can’t think of a better performance this season than their win against Pirates,” said the 31-year-old Nyandoro.
“The way I see it, the pressure will be on Ajax but we also will be attempting to get the best result against them for the remaining five games. They are a young team that’s full of running, we can’t afford to give them space to play, and I’d like to think that the pressure has given us time to refresh.”
What will work in the favour of Sundowns and Ajax is that both teams are out of the Nedbank Cup running and will now focus solely on the league while other contenders, Pirates and Chiefs, will have the Cup distraction on the side.
Sundowns coach Ian Gorowa has a strong team to select from, with the break giving influential midfielder Matthew Pattison time to recover from his stomach viral ailment, and is now ready to face Ajax.
“Ajax have an attacking team, so we’re definitely not expecting them to come here and sit back, and neither will we, we have to make an effort to get all three points against Ajax,” Pattison said.
Another player that will be key for Sundowns is lethal striker Katlego Mphela, who also tops the league’s scoring charts with 11 goals this season.
Hours after netting the historic goal for Bafana Bafana against Egypt last week, Mphela made headlines after being arrested for an alleged drunk-driving charge.