Natal Rich Boyz try to derail the Sundowns train

Natal Rich Boyz try to derail the Sundowns train
Richards Bay players warming up

by Staff Reporter

Friday Jan 06, 2023. 11:00

Mamelodi Sundowns’ seemingly relentless march toward another DStv Premiership title will come up against a resilient test in the shape of Richards Bay at King Zwelithini Stadium on Friday 6 January, in one of eight matches set to be played across the weekend.

The Natal Rich Boyz have been one of the revelations of the current season, with the newly-promoted club coming into this game placed third on the log after suffering just two defeats (and conceding only six goals) from 14 matches.

Yet the task of defeating the Brazilians is a tough one, with Rhulani Mokwena’s side having racked up eight straight wins to underline their dominance at the top of the log. ‘Downs eased past Swallows FC 2-0 on Tuesday night, having had to be patient against the low-block defence of the Birds.

“We knew it was going to be very, very difficult,” noted Mokwena. “In the first half we struggled to get into the right areas, and we didn’t really have the bravery and the confidence, but I want to thank the players for adapting to the tactical changes […] it was not the normal structure that we played this season.”

Saturday is headlined by Orlando Pirates taking on Cape Town City away from home, with the Buccaneers looking to bounce back from a humbling 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sundowns last weekend.

The Soweto giants have won just once in their last six league outings, putting the pressure on coach Jose Riveiro. The Spaniard, however, insists his side is not giving up on the title race: “That’s why the league is important because you must play well here,” he said after the defeat to ‘Downs.

“You must go to Cape Town, Polokwane and host Chippa and take three points.”

He added, “The season is still long. This is only game number 14 and there’s still a lot of points to play for. We are Pirates and we’ll continue until the end.”

Saturday also features Kaizer Chiefs looking to stretch their winning run to three matches when they host Sekhukhune United, while Sunday’s key clash is a derby between KwaZulu-Natal rivals Royal AM and AmaZulu.

According to Usuthu’s veteran midfielder George Maluleka, young tactician Romain Folz is leading the team forward: “He is a good coach, and we have a good relationship with him.

“You guys have seen how the team plays since he took over as coach, but there’s still a lot of work to be done and we’re training hard now.

“He really wants to do well. He is positive and so are the players, and we are looking forward to the second half of the season.”

DStv Premiership weekend fixtures

Times CAT

Friday 6 January

19:30: Richards Bay v Mamelodi Sundowns

19:30: Swallows FC v Chippa United

Saturday 7 January

15:30: Golden Arrows v SuperSport United

15:30: Marumo Gallants v Maritzburg United

17:30: Cape Town City v Orlando Pirates

20:00: Kaizer Chiefs v Sekhukhune United

Sunday 8 January

15:30: Royal AM v AmaZulu

17:30: TS Galaxy v Stellenbosch FC

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