Top Of The Table Clash

Cape Town City vs Mamelodi Sundowns | Friday 2 February | Athlone Stadium | 20:00

This Friday, the ABSA Premiership continues to excite fans and football lovers across the country when Mamelodi Sundowns travel to the Western Cape to face Cape Town City in a top-of-the-table clash. The tie was scheduled to take place at Cape Town Stadium, but once again, football has to make way for a rugby event… at a ‘soccer’ stadium. But no excuses, City have played at the Athlone Stadium before, for the same reasons, back in December last year. Pitso Mosimane has dismissed Cape Town City as title contenders, so this would be the perfect time for Benni McCarthy – who will serve his final game of his touchline ban – to prove Pitso, along with all his other critics wrong.

To Win
Cape Town City 18/10
Draw 19/10
Sundowns 16/10

Cape Town City

Cape Town City will look to get back to winning ways when they host Masandawana at the Athlone Stadium this Friday. The Citizens were held to their fourth draw in the league this term, sharing the spoils with Bloemfontein Celtic in a game that ended 1-1.

They’re Sundowns’ closest rivals, but Pitso Mosimane has ruled them out of the title race. To be fair, I actually agree with Jingles. They’ve sold their best players and replaced them with unknown foreigners, while their home games continue to be shifted around for other sporting events.

Aubrey Ngoma, who was one of City’s star players last season, winning the PSL Midfielder of the Year award, was one of the many standout players to be sold. In fact, City will come up against Ngoma for the first time since his departure this Friday.

Unfortunately for the Citizens, they’ll have to do it without coach Benni McCarthy on the touchline. The 40-year old boss has done a brilliant job in his first season as a manager. His side are a point above the two Soweto giants, at the time of writing, and four behind Sundowns.

Despite being a prolific striker in his playing days, Benni has often relied on his defence to win him games this season. To back that statement up, City’s highest goalscorer this season is defensive midfielder, Roland Putsche, who has just two goals to his name – level with Ayanda Patosi, Craig Martin and Lyle Lakay.

What can boost the Citizens’ confidence ahead of this game is that they’ve played the former African champions just three times, winning on all triple occasions. Nana Akosah-Bempah found the winner in City’s 1-0 win over Sundowns in December and will fancy his chances of breaking Downs’ heart once again.

Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns, like Cape Town City, will be hoping to get back to winning ways after their goalless stalemate at FNB Stadium against Kaizer Chiefs. In his post-match interview after the game, Mosimane stated that the clash between Downs and Chiefs should be a Champions League tie. He then went on further to say that Chiefs must play Champions League football. But where does that leave second-placed Cape Town City?

Mosimane has already ruled the Citizens out of the title race, but as we’ve seen before from the Sundowns boss, it could be strategic mind games. The Brazilians have lost six times already this season – only four teams have lost more – but unlike the rest of the teams in the PSL, Sundowns barely draw, doing so just twice in the campaign, while recording 11 wins.

At the start of the season, you could argue that Masandawana had the best team on paper, and now that they’ve utilised the transfer market to good effect, signing players like Jeremy Brockie, Gaston Sirino and Ngoma, you get the feeling that Sundowns will claim yet another league title.

The Brazilians will be hoping to avoid yet another team doing the double over them after Polokwane City’s success over Downs in January. City completed the double over Sundowns last season, and another defeat for Pitso’s side will blow the title race wide open again.

Despite receiving plenty of criticism, Cape Town City are a tough team to beat. Downs will need their abovementioned signings to come to the party, while the likes of Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi and South Africa’s Lion of Judah, Percy Tau, will also provide an attacking threat.

With players like Tiyani Mabunda, Hlompho Kekana and Oupa Manyisa, Downs also have what it takes to win the midfield battles, immediately giving themselves the advantage in what promises to be a cagey affair.

Probable line-ups:

Cape Town City: 4-3-3
Stephens; Mkhize, Johannes, Fielies, Seedat; Putsche, Nodada, Modise; Lakay, Patosi, Nana.

Mamelodi Sundowns: 4-2-3-1
Onyango; Madisha, Soumahoro, Nascimento, Langerman; Kekana, Mabunda; Tau, Manyisa, Ngoma; Brockie

Prediction: Mamelodi Sundowns (16/10)
You get the feeling that with City boasting such an impressive head-to-head record over Sundowns, that it has to come to an end eventually. The fact that their home game has been moved to Athlone Stadium has given Benni McCarthy an excuse before the game. But with Downs’ quality in attack, I suspect they were always favourites to win this game. My money is on the away win here!

Jesse Nagel

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