Tshwane derby rivals SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns will meet in an enthralling 2020-21 DStv Premiership clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2), live on SuperSport and live streaming through DStv and Showmax.
SuperSport continued their great form – and moved to within two points of leaders Sundowns – by defeating Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 at home on 13 January, with Bradley Grobler scoring the winner and becoming the club’s all-time leading goal scorer (58) as a result.
Matsatsantsa have taken 16 points from the last 18 up for grabs, while their home form through the season thus far makes for good reading, with 13 points from a possible 15.
Grobler, who is the league's leading marksman with 10 goals in as many matches this season, is hopeful that SuperSport can make a serious charge at the league title this campaign, in their aim of dethroning crosstown rivals Sundowns at the top of the Premiership tree.
"I think, look, if we go back the last few seasons, yes we have won trophies, but I think as a club we've let ourselves down in the league and we know that," said Grobler. "We have got into good positions and just haven't been able to capitalise on that. I think this season, even if it is still very early, we've done very well and have won games that in the past we might not have won.
"I do believe in what we've got and we need to challenge ourselves to go for the league. We will give it 100 per cent and see what happens."
SuperSport head coach Kaitano Tembo is wary of the threat posed by the Brazilians but wants his team to focus on themselves.
"Look, Sundowns are a team that has a lot of quality," Tembo said. "They have brought in good players. They have got the cream and they can always change their team. The most important thing is for us to focus on ourselves and our strengths. Our game is what makes us win matches."
Sundowns extended their unbeaten start to the season – and claimed a seventh win from 10 matches – when they defeated Baroka FC 2-0 away from home on 9 January, with goals from Lyle Lakay and Themba Zwane. The Brazilians have taken 11 points from five away matches this season, and they have shipped just two goals on the road in 450 minutes of league football.
Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena says that the defending champions will approach this weekend's match like all matches, without forgetting the fact that derbies bring different conundrums, especially derby matches with a lot on the line.
"For us, it is another game, one of 30," said Mokwena. "An important game, of course, you can't run away from the fact that it is a derby and with every derby there is bragging rights and a lot of emotional opportunities that are at stake.
"But, if we play the match and not the occasion we should be okay. We shouldn't get carried away by the event, the occasion. Our sole focus should be to play the match as an 11 versus 11 event which will have a lot of difficult questions posed by the opposition which we will have to answer.
"We will also ask a lot of questions and if we impress our personality and philosophy on the match, we should be okay. We have to keep going and keep working towards getting the right results," Mokwena concluded.
In head-to-head terms, United and Sundowns have clashed in 58 league matches since 1990. The Brazilians have dominated the rivalry, claiming 31 wins compared to 15 for Matsatsantsa, while 12 games have been drawn. The team in blue have managed just five wins from 29 home matches in the rivalry, suffering 18 defeats in the process.
Sundowns completed a league ‘double’ over SuperSport last season, winning 2-0 at Lucas Moripe Stadium in August 2019 and 2-1 at the same venue in the return game in January 2020. Themba Zwane scored in both games for the Brazilians.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: SUPERSPORT UNITED
Bradley Grobler & Thamsanqa Gabuza: It would be unfair to single out one over the other with 'Double G' key to Matsatsantsa's climb up the league standings. The strike pair have combined for 13 goals in their last six matches and have both scored in the club's four most recent league matches heading into this weekend's derby.
Ronwen Williams: The SuperSport captain will be eager to keep a rare clean sheet against their crosstown rivals. Williams, who is now very much a senior member of a team full of youthful talent, has only kept three clean sheets in 10 matches this season and will likely need to make a few big saves if he is to earn his fourth on Saturday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: MAMELODI SUNDOWNS
Themba Zwane: After missing two games, Zwane returned with a goal last time out and has now scored eight in eight this season. Zwane has been key to Sundowns' success in the past few seasons and especially in this fixture, where he usually excels. He is not only a goal threat, but also key in bringing others into the game and creating chances for his teammates.
Rivaldo Coetzee: Having first caught the eye as a ball-playing centre-back, Coetzee has excelled in a deep-lying midfield role for the Brazilians. He is the best in his position at screening those behind him and finding teammates in space. His contribution will be key to stifling Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule's influence in the game.