United, Downs set for thriller
Thabo September (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - SuperSport United defender Thabo September says their Premiership clash against Pretoria neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns in Atteridgeville on Friday will be a test of character for their championship ambitions.
Log-leaders United, with 28 points and a single loss after 13 games have a three-point lead over a formidable Brazilians outfit, who occupy second spot.
"This will be a test of character and our championship mentality," September said.
"For us, it comes at a time when we are trying to redeem ourselves as well, after the 3-0 loss to Orlando Pirates in our last match."
United, the three-time successive league winners between 2007 and 2010, will aim to go into next week's festive recess at the top of the standings.
Their last match of the year will be against Bloemfontein Celtic next Wednesday.
The star-studded Sundowns squad have gained some fluidity in their play in the last month, despite the 1-0 loss to Kaizer Chiefs two weeks ago.
"Sundowns have been doing great as well, having lost just twice in the season, and have great individual talent in their team," September said.
"Being that it's a Pretoria derby, it should be tough and entertaining. But we are the home team, and have done well at Lucas Moripe Stadium."
Amatsatsantsa a Pitori will have a full squad available with the exception of suspended forward Anthony Laffor and injured Ghanaian midfielder George Arwuah.
Sundowns goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, however, said as much as his side would be satisfied with overtaking United at the Christmas break, it was how they finished off in May that counted.
Sundowns were in first position this time last year before slipping in the second-half of the campaign.
The eight-time league champions were - despite investing millions of rands in the playing and coaching staff over the last five years - in search of their first championship title since the 2007/08 season.
"It is how we will finish the season that is more important," Sandilands told his club's website.
"So while we want to get to the top, we need not be obsessed with it."
Sundowns travel to Charles Mopeli Stadium in Phuthaditjaba for their last game against Free State Stars on Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Santos take on AmaZulu at Athlone Stadium in Friday evening's other fixture.
The troubled People's Team are in 14th place on the log with concerns surrounding coach Boebie Solomons's job, while Usuthu have steadily climbed up the standings and are now ninth-placed.