Sundowns look to consolidate top spot

Sundowns look to consolidate top spot
Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Deolin Mekoa of Martizburg United during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 football match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on 13 December 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Dec 16, 2017. 15:00

Mamelodi Sundowns will look to further consolidate first place on the Absa Premiership log when they host Bloemfontein Celtic at Loftus Stadium on 16 December 2017, kick-off at 15h30.

Sundowns have put together a six-match unbeaten run which has seem them take 16 points from a possible 18 to rise to the top of the standing and establish themselves as title favourites. The Tshwane side defeated Maritzburg United 1-0 on December 13 to claim a hat-trick of victories since a goalless draw at Chippa United in late November.

The Brazilians have lost three of their five home matches this season, but their last two turns as hosts have brought a full haul of six points, as their midweek win over United was preceded by a 4-0 thrashing of Baroka on December 5.

Celtic claimed their biggest win of the league season when they thumped derby rivals Free State Stars 3-0 at home on December 10. Victor Letsoalo scored brace of goals to sandwich a fine strike from Lucky Baloyi as the Bloemfontein side produced their best performance of 2017/18 thus far.

Phunya Sele Sele have claimed nine points from their six away matches this term, while their last completed game on the road was a 0-0 draw at Platinum Stars in November (as their fixture at AmaZulu earlier this month was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch).

In head-to-head stats, Sundowns and Celtic have met in 58 league matches since 1985. The Brazilians have claimed 29 wins compared to 13 for Phunya Sele Sele, while 16 matches have been drawn. The Tshwane side has claimed 15 wins from 29 home matches against the Bloemfontein club, suffering six defeats in the process.

Last season ‘Downs took four points off Celtic, winning 1-0 in Bloemfontein in the first half of the campaign, followed by a goalless draw in the return game in Tshwane. The Brazilians have claimed just one win from their last five home matches against Phunya Sele Sele.

Sundowns’ line-up from their 1-0 win over Maritzburg on December 13: Onyango, Langerman, Soumahoro, Morena (Ngconga 87’), Madisha, Manyisa, Kekana, Mabunda, Vilakazi (Zakri 56’), T. Zwane (Arendse 87’), Tau.

Celtic’s line-up from their 3-0 win over Stars on December 10: Tignyemb, Pfumbidzai, Rikhotso, Lubisi, Ndengane, Motshegwa (Mashikinya 72’), Baloyi, Phalane, Hotto, Mabena (Mabaso 84’), Letsoalo (Mahlasela 78’).




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