Continental competition returns this weekend, as Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits represent the Absa Premiership in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.
All three teams will compete on Saturday with Bidvest Wits – the only South African team still in the Confederation Cup – getting the ball rolling. The Students will host Tanzanian club Azam in Johannesburg. Kick-off for that fixture is 18:00.
Bidvest Wits, currently second in the Absa Premiership standings, have gathered considerable momentum in all competitions, in recent weeks.
The Clever Boys have recorded six victories in their last six outings. The most compelling of those results was the 6-0 demolition job against Seychelles club Lightstars.
The home team still feels that it has a fighting chance of winning the Absa Premiership this season and a critical component in that regard will be the availability of key players and squad depth, as the team tries to cope with the demands of continental football. The big news in recent weeks has been the unavailability of Phakamani Mahlambi for the remainder of the season, with Sibusiso Vilakazi also added to a list that already included Papy Faty.
Kaizer Chiefs have a daunting assignment ahead of them at the FNB Stadium this weekend, primarily because the opponent is ASEC Mimosas from the Ivory Coast, but also because Chiefs have struggled with momentum in the build-up to this fixture.
Just last weekend Chiefs suffered a 2-0 defeat against old rivals Orlando Pirates at this weekend’s venue. Two fixtures prior to that they had to share the spoils with Polokwane City, also at the FNB Stadium. Chiefs’ most recent defeat was recorded against a competent Platinum Stars outfit and away from home on Wednesday. However, it does mean they have lost two matches on the trot now.
What will encourage Chiefs though, is that ASEC have not covered themselves in glory this season either. Four draws in five matches do not paint a pretty picture for the Ivorians, who only advanced to this stage of the competition through a 1-0 victory (over two legs) against minnows AS CotonTchad in the preliminary round.
Sundowns are not likely to have an easy ride either, as they host Congo’s AC Leopards at the Lucas Moripe Stadium just outside of Pretoria. It should be an enthralling fixture between two teams that are in form. Sundowns have won each of their last four matches, in all competitions.
While they barely emerged unscathed during their Nedbank Cup clash against Highlands Park at the weekend, they did show that they could produce the desired result, even not at their very best
The significant thing about Sundowns during their last five matches is that they have only conceded once during that period. Bafana Ba Style have momentum heading into this weekend’s clash.
The ominous factor for Sundowns is that Leopards are also at the top of their league standings, having recorded victories in nine of their last ten matches. The only blemish during this period was the 2-2 draw recorded against JS Talangai in the Congolese Ligue 1 at the start of last month.
The team news for Sundowns, during the last three weeks, has been the return of Mogakolodi Ngele to the fray. Leonardo Castro is also back in action, despite experiencing some muscle problems towards the end of last month.