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The two traditional giants meet on Saturday in a showdown that could influence their campaign at the start of the year
Orlando Pirates assistant coach Fadlu Davids has described the Mamelodi Sundowns as a new team with a “completely changed structure” that makes them favorites for the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title.
The two teams will meet at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday as the league action continues after the holiday break.
Under the leadership of coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, as well as senior coach Steve Komphela, Sundowns leads the PSL table, five points ahead of the fifth-place Pirates, and Davids feels their rivals are well placed to retain the league title.
However, the Soweto giants are eager to close the gap and victory would see them two points behind Downs with a game in hand.
“We are very confident in the preparations leading up to the big game against Sundowns away from home in Loftus,” said Davids. Pirate media.
“We are up to the challenge, we know they are the favorites, they are leading the record. It is our job to try to close the gap. You can see that they completely changed the structure and principles of the game. They are a new team with new ways of playing.
“We have to be prepared for them. Yes, we have to take care of their structures, but the most important thing is to execute our game plan and our way of playing. “
The Sundowns are competing for a fourth straight league title, which would be a record for successive crowns in the PSL era.
On the other hand, the Pirates are desperate to end a nine-year title drought, their longest streak without being crowned champions in this league era.
Buccaneers captain Thulani Hlatshwayo has emphasized starting the year on a “good note”, as he also stressed that Saturday’s game is as important as a Cup final.
“Everyone is ready and excited to start the new year on a good note. I wouldn’t say we have some free time for a long time because we had a game in Angola. [on December 22, 2020] and the boys needed to spend time with their families, which was a short break, ”Hlatshwayo said according to Front runner.
“So in practice you could see that the guys are still ready. The preparations have been very good, everyone has been available. We don’t have many injuries except [Zakhlele] Lepasa and [Tshegofatso] Mabasa and we are happy with the preparations so far because everyone is ready and everything has gone well. I’m sure it’s an important match, it’s like a Cup final ”.
Hlatshwayo has also identified areas where the Pirates have found deficiencies so far in a campaign in which they have scored nine goals in seven league goals, the lowest tally of the top eight.
“So internally as a team we have objectives, one of the objectives has been met. [MTN8 triumph] and now we have to make sure we focus on the league, ”Hlatshwayo said.
“We have played many draws, we have not created many chances, we have not scored many goals. We have been finishing quite a bit this week and now we are looking forward to Saturday’s game. “