Swallows out to halt Sundowns

2012-02-23 14:44

Johannesburg - Most Premiership teams will be sending best wishes to Moroka Swallows ahead of their appetising clash with log leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns in Dobsonville on Friday evening.

"It is a very big game and I expect the other coaches to wish me good luck," the Swallows coach Gordon Igesund told his club's website on Thursday.

"If we win, we will stop Sundowns from running away at the top of the standings."

Sundowns, with 35 points after 17 matches, carry a three point lead in the campaign with SuperSport United, Kaizer Chiefs (both on 32 points), Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town (both on 30 points) following closely behind.

Sixth-placed Swallows are on 29 points and a win could see them move back to fourth in the standings - a position they held before their 3-0 weekend loss to Chiefs.

The Birds' defence let them down on all three occasions - as they did in the 4-0 defeat to the Brazilians earlier in the season and it is something Igesund would have worked on this week in training.

The visitors will be without top striker Katlego Mphela who has a one-match suspension having accumulated three yellow cards this season.

Sundowns, though, still have proven net finders in Zimbabwean poacher Nyasha Mushekwi and their new Liberian acquisition, Anthony Laffor.

Striker Lebohang Mokoena will also be looking to impress, having been called up to the Bafana Bafana squad to face Senegal in next week's international friendly in Durban.

The normally free-scoring outfit will be keen to increase their 31 season goal tally having been held to a 0-0 draw by the resilient defensive efforts from relegation-fighting Jomo Cosmos on Sunday.

The Swallows forwards, led by the league's leading scorer, Siyabonga Nomvethe, will need to be clinical in front of goal.

Their in-form midfielder David Mathebula will be in support alongside captain Lefa Tsutsulupa.

Critically, goalkeeper Greg Etafia and his back four will need to be solid again with the club looking at maintaining their impressive home record at the Soweto venue.

"I think if we play like we did against Chiefs we’ll be fine, but we have to take our chances which we did not do against Chiefs," Igesund said.

"We also cannot make the mistakes we made at the back in defence otherwise we’ll be punished."

In Saturday's matches, Cosmos play Free State Stars in Daveyton, with Golden Arrows tackling bottom-placed Black Leopards in Umlazi.

SuperSport face AmaZulu in Atteridgeville, while Bidvest Wits take on Kaizer Chiefs in Nelspruit.

Pride is at stake when Ajax meet Santos in the often bad-tempered Cape Derby at Cape Town Stadium.

On Sunday, Pirates clash with Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium, with Bloemfontein Celtic lining up against Platinum Stars at Botshabelo Stadium.

Stars have gone nine matches without a win, and need the three points to stave off relegation.