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SA SOCCER NEWS
Birds go into battle with Brazilians 21/01/05
Saturday's clash between Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns promises to be a titanic affair between two highly ambitious title-chasing clubs.

Both sides have their eyes set on the league title, but with pace-setters Orlando Pirates starting to open up a sizable gap near the top, nothing less that a win will do for either side.

The Dube Birds come into the game on the back of a morale boosting win over Chiefs, followed by a spirited comeback draw against Black Leopards, not to mention a good showing against Ajax Amsterdam in between.

So the players will be feeling confident ahead of the game, as will the Sundowns team, who have scored two straight wins - against Ajax and Santos, and seem to have found the winning combination under new coach Angel Cappa.

There is little choose between the clubs, who have both made their intentions clear to challenge for the title, and who both have passionate sets of fans who are demanding that their teams break the hold that the Soweto Giants, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs have had over the league in the last few seasons.

The Dube Birds, have, however, had a stronghold over their Pretoria rivals in recent times, having beaten them twice in the league last season, as well as in the Coca-Cola Cup.

The first round Premiership fixture at the HM Pitje Stadium earlier this season ended in 1-1 draw.

Saturday's clash promises to showcase the best in local soccer, with a number of mouth watering duals to look forward to, not least of all in the middle of the park, where Sundowns' tough-tackling duo of Teboho Mokoena and Esrom Nyandoro will battle for supremacy against the two Swallows war horses, Goodman Mazibuko and Alfred Phiri.

Although the veteran Birds defence will be very aware of the threat posed by Zimbabwean dangerman Peter Ndlovu, they will also need to keep an eye on the likes of Siake Tiene, who grabbed a brace in midweek, as well as Josta Dladla and Surprise Moriri, all players who will test the Swallows rearguard to the fullest with their direct and speedy attacks.

The Brazilians know that they can expect a tough time in marking the bean-pole striker Lungisani Ndlela, but doing something about this is another matter as 'Chippa's height enables him to win almost anything in the air. The key for success to Swallows will be to ensure that the likes of Dennis Lota and Pitso Lekone are in the right positions to profit from the service they get from the big man.

The hosts still have Ivan Winstanley out with injury, while defender Gary McNab will undergo a fitness test this afternoon to determine if he has adequately recovered from a hamstring injury, according to team manager, Bennet Mtshali.

Mtshali also revealed that Zimbabwean striker Alois Ngwerume is unlikely to be available for the big showdown at the Rand Stadium.

"Ngwerume suffered a hamstring injury during training this week and is doubtful for the Sundowns game," said Mtshali.

Mtshali also confirmed that McDonald Mukansi is still training with the Birds, but said that no steps have yet been made with regards to signing the player.

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