Friday Dec 17, 2021. 10:00
As the DStv Premiership tries to close out as many fixtures as possible before the mid-season break, all eyes will fall on the heavyweight bout between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, which will headline a bumper weekend of action in South Africa’s top flight.
‘Downs and Pirates will meet at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Friday night, with the rest of the league surely willing on the latter club to at least provide some resistance to the champions’ seemingly relentless march to an unprecedented fifth successive title.
Sundowns opened up a 15-point lead over nearest chasers Kaizer Chiefs (who do have two games in hand), with Pirates a point further back in third, after a 2-1 win over Baroka FC in midweek – and that victory arrived despite playing half of the game with a man’s disadvantage after a red card for Kermit Erasmus.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, could only draw 1-1 against Soweto rivals Swallows FC, with co-coach Mandla Ncikazi worried that his side is not being ruthless in front of goal – something they cannot afford against a team of Sundowns’ class.
“That becomes a problem in our game where we create the opportunities but the final pass or the shot, we don’t score,” explained Ncikazi.
“And it comes back to bite you. You give confidence to the opponents. If we had taken our chances early enough we wouldn’t be in the situation that we are.
“But we played in patches [against Swallows]. I don’t think we dominated throughout. There were moments where it was scary. Swallows were a bit dominant but enough chances to score. We just missed that final pass.”
Friday also sees AmaZulu travel to Marumo Gallants and hoping for any result other than a draw, having shared the spoils in their last seven consecutive matches, while the pick of Saturday’s four games is probably Cape Town City at home to Swallows, with the Birds having shown encouraging signs of a renaissance in their midweek performance against Pirates.
Sunday will see Royal AM look to complete a league ‘double’ over Kaizer Chiefs when the teams meet at Chatsworth Stadium – having claimed a famous 4-1 win over the Amakhosi back in September – before the weekend closes out with a relegation six-pointer between Maritzburg United and Chippa United at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
DStv Premiership weekend fixtures
All times CAT
Friday 17 December
17:15: Marumo Gallants v AmaZulu
19:30: Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates
Saturday 18 December
15:30: Stellenbosch FC v Baroka FC
15:30: Golden Arrows v TS Galaxy
18:00: Sekhukhune United v SuperSport United
20:15: Cape Town City v Swallows FC
Sunday 19 December
15:30: Royal AM v Kaizer Chiefs
18:00: Maritzburg United v Chippa United