Absa Premiership League

Mamelodi Sundowns vs Bidvest Wits Preview | Saturday 14 April | Loftus Versfeld Stadium | 15:00

They don’t get any bigger than this! It’s the table toppers against the defending champions in the headline fixture of the PSL weekend. Mamelodi Sundowns will be hoping to maintain their lead at the summit, while Bidvest Wits will be fighting for a spot in the top eight.

When these sides met round about this time last season, they were both chasing the title and Ben Motshwari’s thumping header decided the outcome of the match and subsequently swayed the race to Wits’ favour. The Clever Boys started the current campaign slowly and they couldn’t hold their own against the Brazilians when they locked horns earlier on in the season and ended up losing 2-0.

We can’t talk about the battle between Wits and Sundowns without mentioning last year’s MTN8 final in which Gavin Hunt’s men turned on a show and had Pitso Mosimane’s charges running around like headless chickens in an emphatic 3-0 triumph.

To Win (90 Mins)
Sundowns 7/10
Draw 5/2
Wits 15/4

Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns look on course to claim their eighth PSL title and the only team they have to worry about is second-placed Orlando Pirates. Their recent form has been superb as they have won their last three fixtures. Percy Tau is in sizzling form and his winner against Baroka FC last weekend took his league tally to 11. He is now jointly with Rodney Ramagalela – the leading goalscorer. If the opponents don’t keep a close eye on him, they will be punished.

It is also interesting to note that Khama Billiat’s return to first team has turned their fortunes around. They haven’t lost since he started playing again and they still have a chance to win the Nedbank Cup as well, while also still participating in the CAF Champions League, which prompted Pitso Mosimane to moan about the workload. Rotation while trying to use key players as much as possible is key. The Brazilians have another league clash three days after this match as they host Golden Arrows.

Jeremy Brockie hasn’t found the back of the net since he switched over from SuperSport United and his low confidence at the moment manifested itself when he missed a couple of sitters last week, which doesn’t give the technical team a lot of options when it comes to rotating the squad. By a way of contrast, Sibusiso Vilakazi is regaining his form and was named man of the match when they beat Baroka.

Bidvest Wits

After a slow start to the season and spending almost the whole first half of it at the bottom of the log, the Clever Boys have dramatically turned their fortunes around and they now occupy 10th place. They haven’t lost any of their recent nine league games and they weren’t involved in PSL action last week due to continental commitments. Wits drew the CAF Confederations Cup tie 1-1 with Enyimba at home. Hunt fielded fringe players which shows that he had the Sundowns clash in mind.

The coach has bemoaned his side’s lack of depth and quality.

“It’s not our first side, we don’t have enough players. But the players who haven’t played don’t show [up], do they? So, that’s disappointing,” Hunt told reporters.

“I think it’s because we lack [quality], but we’ve been better than everyone and we just haven’t won. So, I can’t stand here and start making excuses. We’re just not good enough. If we can’t beat sides like that, Jesus…” he moaned.

Probable line-ups:

Sundowns: 4-3-3
Onyango; Morena, Arendse, Nascimento, Langerman; Mabunda, Kekana, Sirino; Billiat, Tau, Vilakazi

Wits: 4-4-2
Keet; Allie, Khumalo, Hlatshwayo, Hlanti; Scott, Claasen, Pelembe, Klate; Majoro, Keene

Prediction: Draw (5/2)
I think if anyone can snap Sundowns’ three-match winning streak, it’s Wits! The Clever Boys will definitely have their work cut out defensively as containing Billiat and Tau is a nightmare, but their rock-solid defence which has the likes of Thulani Hlatswayo, Sifiso Hlanti, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Nazeer Allie can manage. Wits’ attacking prowess can also not be easily undermined as their attacking force is teeming with experienced players like Elias Pelembe, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Daine Klate, Sifiso Myeni and others. I think the sides will cancel each other out in a low scoring affair.

Benedict Ngwenya

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