Sundowns Hope To Continue Good Run22/Aug/2017 09:19
Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane has another early opportunity to try out combinations as the Absa Premiership goes into the second round of matches as his side takes on Polokwane City at the Loftus Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Brazilians got their campaign off to a flying start at the weekend when they disposed of cross town rival Supersport United 2-0.
Now they face another side that has often proved to be a banana peel. In their last encounter, Sundowns dropped two critical points when they dominated the Polokwane side but could not get the ball over the line, the game ending goalless at the same venue.
Two seasons before, the Polokwane side beat the Brazilians in Polokwane in a game that contributed to Sundowns losing the league championship.
Now, Mosimane believes he is getting close to getting a machine that fires on all cylinders in place.
And at the weekend, Sundowns played like a well oiled machine, although Mosimane wants to see them scoring more of the opportunities that they create. Their build up play is often a marvel to watch, but once inside the scoring areas, either one touch too many robs them of goals, or hurried desperate attempts when the feel under pressure give their opponents respite.
Although Khama Billiat had three shots at goal blocked by the Supersport United defence, the Brazilian has the talent to do better, and he knows it. So does Percy Tau and Yannick Zakri, while super sub Anthony Laffor has not been firing as we know he can.
The good news is that new signings Oupa Manyisa and George Lebese have come to the party, and Lebese, in particular, is due for his first goal for his new side. With Sibusiso Vilakazi watching, it would be interesting to see how he responds if given a run by Mosimane.
Polokwane opened their account with a draw in the Polokwane derby at the weekend, but have shown their worth. In particular, Rodney Ramagalela has been their go-to man for goals when the going gets tough, but it is George Chigova, who stood between Sundowns and victory last time out, who the Brazilians have to find a work-around for.
Mosimane will have his top two goalkeepers at his disposal, with Denis Onyango, his regular first choice, and new signing Brimah Razak set to compete for the gloves. This is sure to get both to give a 100% performance if given a chance. Both know there is still Kennedy Mweene and Thela Ngobeni in the wings.
The central defence line seems to have settled, with only Ricardo Nascimento still on a recovery programme following an operation.
But it is the role that captain Hlompho Kekana plays that has become crucial for Mosimane. Kekana opened his scoring account when he netted the opening goal at the weekend, while Manyisa kept his central defence role. Manyisa himself is no slouch when within striking range, so there will be options for cut back opportunities for both men.
Mosimane hopes his boys maintain a winning run to go better than they did in the past, where they often went several games at the beginning of the league season, which has made this game crucial. It is also the first game they play at Loftus since early last season.