Downs face tricky test of their cre­den­tials

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Mamelodi Sun­downs’ re­solve at the top of the Absa Premier­ship will be tested over the next few days.

Af­ter go­ing 17 games un­beaten in all com­pe­ti­tions, the Brazil­ians face a tough seven days that could put the brakes on their un­beaten run.

With a five-point gap at the top be­fore this week­end’s round of matches, Sun­downs can af­ford to slip up, al­though that will be the last thing on Pitso Mosi­mane’s mind. He will want to keep the chas­ing pack at a dis­tance.

Start­ing this af­ter­noon, they face a hec­tic sched­ule that com­mences with a trip to the James Mot­latsi Sta­dium in Orkney, where they visit Free State Stars.

Then they have a tough one against Or­lando Pi­rates on Wed­nes­day, also on the road, be­fore head­ing out of the coun­try to Zim­babwe, where they will face Chicken Inn in the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball Cham­pi­ons League next Sun­day.

They will get a week’s breather be­fore tak­ing on Golden Ar­rows – the last team to beat them, at the end of Septem­ber.

The next few fix­tures could es­sen­tially de­ter­mine the cham­pi­onship’s desti­na­tion, as other ti­tle con­tenders fight among them­selves.

Sun­downs travel to Soweto to face Pi­rates on Wed­nes­day, a game that will test the Brazil­ians’ ti­tle cre­den­tials. The Buc­ca­neers al­ways rise to the oc­ca­sion against big sides.

Pi­rates are fight­ing for sur­vival – their log po­si­tion leaves much to be de­sired. They also have a bone to pick with Sun­downs, who beat them 2-0 in their first-round clash at Lof­tus in Pre­to­ria.

Third-placed Bid­vest Wits will be look­ing to get their cam­paign back on track when

Su­per­Sport United vs Ajax Cape Town (Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium); Free State Stars vs Mamelodi Sun­downs (James Mot­latsi Sta­dium); Plat­inum Stars vs Polok­wane City (Royal Bafo­keng Sta­dium)

Tues­day, 7.30pm:

Bid­vest Wits vs Kaizer Chiefs (Bid­vest Sta­dium)

Or­lando Pi­rates vs Mamelodi Sun­downs (Or­lando Sta­dium); Mpumalanga Black Aces vs Ajax Cape Town, Mbombela Sta­dium)

Wed­nes­day, 7.30pm:

they wel­come de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Kaizer Chiefs in a six-poin­ter at the Bid­vest Wits Sta­dium on Tues­day.

The Stu­dents are grad­u­ally los­ing pace at the top af­ter drop­ping eight points in their last four matches. They lost to Mpumalanga Black Aces and Bloem­fontein Celtic and dropped fur­ther points in a 1-1 draw against Plat­inum Stars mid­week.

Both Wits and Chiefs need three points to close the gap be­fore it is too late.

Aces, who have dropped un­nec­es­sary points, have a tricky one against strug­gling Ajax Cape Town away in Cape Town, also on Wed­nes­day.

Coach Muhsin Er­tuğral’s side would be se­ri­ous con­tenders if they didn’t sur­ren­der points against sides at the bot­tom of the log.

They suf­fered a shock 1-0 de­feat to Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria re­cently and played to a goal­less draw with Jomo Cos­mos mid­week.

Aces’ lost six points would have put AmaZay­oni neck and neck with Sun­downs. But it’s not too late to get their ti­tle chal­lenge back on track.

PHOTO: ANESH DEBIKY / GALLO IM­AGES

FLY­ING HIGH Khama Billiat has been the star of the show at Mamelodi Sun­downs

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