Polokwane face tough test to open 2018

Polokwane face tough test to open 2018
George Lebese of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Edgar Manaka of Polokwane City during Absa Premiership 2017/18 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Polokwane City at Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria South Africa on 22 August 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Jan 05, 2018. 10:30

Polokwane City face the toughest test in the Absa Premiership as they open 2018 with match against leaders Mamelodi Sundowns at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on 6 January, kick-off at 15h30.

Polokwane ended last year on a high as they claimed a 1-0 away win over Chippa United on December 16, with Rodney Ramagalela scoring a late penalty. The result saw the Limpopo side end a five-match winless streak in the top flight.

Rise and Shine have yet to win at home this season, having recorded five draws and three defeats from eight matches as hosts. They have netted just six goals in the sequence and will need to improve in attack if they are to end their drought at home.

Sundowns ended 2017 on top of the log and with a four-point advantage, but their final game of last year brought a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Cape Town City - a result which ended a four-match winning run and seven-match unbeaten streak.

The Brazilians have been superb away from home this season, claiming 19 points from a possible 21. Their last match on the road was a 1-0 win at Golden Arrows on December 10. They have conceded just two goals in seven away matches this season.

In head-to-head stats, City and Sundowns have met in nine league matches since 2013/14. The Brazilians have claimed five wins compared to two for Rise and Shine, while two matches have been drawn. The Limpopo side has won one of their four home matches in the rivalry, suffering three defeats in the process.

When the teams met earlier this season, Polokwane claimed a surprise 2-1 away win in Tshwane on August 22, with former Sundowns attacker Rodney Ramagalela scoring both goals. It was Rise and Shine’s first win over the Brazilians since the teams’ first league meeting in 2013.

Polokwane’s line-up from their 1-0 win over Chippa on December 16: Chigova, Maponyane (Tshela 79’), Semenya, Mbonani, Hlongwane, Vilakazi, Phiri, J. Maluleke, Musona, Ramagalela, Ndou (Booi 66’).

Sundowns’ line-up from their 1-0 loss to CT City on December 19: Onyango, Langerman, Arendse (Hachi 90+2'), S. Zwane, Manyisa, Kekana (Ngele 87'), Mabunda, Morena, Tau, T. Zwane Sekotlong (Zakri 73').

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