Sport

Downs vs Wits: An even match

2018-10-07 07:31

Hlompho Kekana is so used to playing almost nonstop football that he finds it odd when Mamelodi Sundowns sit idle for while.

The Brazilians returned to action in the middle of the week and played to a goalless draw against Bloemfontein Celtic, two weeks after they last kicked an official ball.

Sundowns, who failed to advance to the knockout stage of the CAF Champions League this season, still have two Absa Premiership games to play to catch up with the rest of the teams on the domestic programme.

Kekana admitted that he followed the recent CAF semifinals with a sore heart.

“We could also have been there. We are itching for more games because, the more you play, the more you improve,” the Downs skipper said this week.

Sundowns host log leaders Bidvest Wits at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Tshwane this afternoon, a fixture that excites Kekana as it pits the reigning champions against the most recent Premiership winners.

And the two sides have the most representatives in the Bafana Bafana squad – as was revealed in Monday’s announcement of the national squad to face Seychelles in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Sundowns has six of the players, while Wits has four.

“It’s going to be a tricky game because both coaches [Downs’ Pitso Mosimane and Wits’ Gavin Hunt] are good tacticians, and this is one encounter that will be worth the supporters’ money,”
Hlompho Kekana, Mamelodi Sundowns captain

Although Sundowns are unbeaten in six games – the only side with an unblemished record – they have not really shifted into top gear.

In contrast, The Clever Boys are riding the crest of a wave this campaign, having made a massive about-turn from their disastrous campaign last season.

Wits have collected more points (10) away from home, including in back-to-back wins over Soweto giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs in August.

Hunt and his side are basking in their trail of sizeable wins that have seen Wits constantly occupying the top spot on the Absa Premiership log.

The Clever Boys will arrive in Tshwane fresh from another victory after Scottish striker Simon Murray’s brace sank newly crowned MTN8 champions Cape Town City on Tuesday.

“We are aware of their dangermen and their movements,” said Kekana.

“We just need to maintain our positional discipline and keep shape on the day.”

Sundowns and Wits are separated by six points in the top half of the standings heading into their clash today.

Mosimane will again bank on Kekana’s experience to win possession in midfield for attacking players such as the ever improving Lebohang Maboe and Sibusiso Vilakazi, who have also been finding the net lately.

Maboe, who scored the winning strike against Golden Arrows a fortnight ago, had a goal disallowed against Celtic on Wednesday.

On their last trip across the Jukskei River, Wits lost 2-0 to Downs, but the result at the time summed up the catastrophic campaign Wits endured last season.

In fact, Mosimane did a double as he also emerged victorious in the first round at Milpark.

Things are a bit different now, but today’s fixture could still put Wits to the test – if Hunt’s team are championship material.

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October 13 2019