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Preview - Sundowns v Swallows


There will be no place to hide at Loftus Stadium on Saturday night when defending Castle Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns play host to the in-form Moroka Swallows.

Sundowns coach Gordon Igesund refuses to see his team as the title favourites, despite history showing that the stylish leaders at the halfway point have got what it takes to successfully defend their Castle Premiership title.

"It's too soon to talk about that. There are four or five other teams who are candidates," said Igesund.

"We are on the right track but it is important to take it one game at the time. I have professional players in my armoury and they know what it is required out of them. By beating both Chiefs and Pirates we have raised the bar and I know that my players will rise to the challenge, as the supporters want nothing but a victory."

After a blockbuster success that saw the reigning champions beating both traditional rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates with a swagger in two successive league encounters, the 'Brazilians' possess all the firepower to beat yet another Soweto giant, Moroka Swallows, when the two teams clash on Saturday night at 8.10pm.

This would be a good tonic to indicate how club President Patrice Motsepe would like to dominate South African football, and judging by their scintillating displays, Sundowns are the embodiment of quality football that has left the country gasping for more.

Such has been the high-earners' domination this season, that with three matches in hand, they are perched on top of the log standings with 35 points, while the resurgent 'Dube Birds' - who thrashed fellow title-chasers Ajax Cape Town 2-0 at home last week - are placed fifth, just two points behind Sundowns, but having played three matches more.

Their top-of-the-log status aside, Sundowns were also handed a huge boost this week, with the man for the big occasion, Jose Torrealba, returning from suspension; much to Igesund's delight.

"He is an important player in my team and I am thrilled he is back," said Igesund. "Peter (Ndlovu) had a stunner of a game (against Pirates) and it is good that he grabbed the opportunity as I am now thinking about who I have to leave behind."

And on the Swallows threat, Igesund concluded: "Swallows are a tough side and their position speaks volumes. They are good on set-pieces and have a balanced team so they need to be closely monitored.

"But if we continue showing a spirited attitude like we did against Pirates by coming from a goal down, then the sky is the limit for us."

Having recently witnessed Sundowns' demolition of Chiefs and Pirates, Swallows coach Gavin Hunt is aware of the challenge that awaits his team at Loftus on Saturday.

"Without a doubt, Sundowns are riding the crest of the wave," said Hunt.

"They have an unbelievable attitude and we must be at our best to stop them. We are not going to do anybody a favour, as I can see that we stand a chance of winning the championship at the end of the season.

"We showed against Ajax that we have what it takes to reach the summit and without saying much, we stand a chance."

Key players:

Mamelodi Sundowns - Lerato Chabangu
With all of Sundowns' forwards fit and on form, Chabangu remains the man to watch and his hot goal-scoring form continued with a fine strike against Pirates during the week.

Moroka Swallows - Songwe Chalwe
The former Kaizer Chiefs striker has been in good scoring form for Swallows recently, including a goal in the 2-0 win over fellow title-chasers, Ajax. He will hope to impress against Sundowns this weekend.

2006/07 Castle Premiership statistics:

Mamelodi Sundowns

Current league position: First
Biggest victory: 4-0 v AmaZulu (H), January 13, 2007
Biggest defeat: 2-1 v Ajax Cape Town (H), December 9, 2006
Leading scorer: Torrealba - 11 goals (1 SAA, 6 PSL, 1 Telkom, 3 MTN CAF)

Moroka Swallows

Current league position: Fifth
Biggest victory: 2-0 v Santos (H), December 17, 2006 and v Ajax Cape Town (H), February 11, 2007
Biggest defeat: 0-4 v BidVest Wits (H), November 8, 2006
Leading scorer: Niang - Five goals (1 SAA, 3 PSL, 1 Telkom)

Match preview by Patrick Baloyi/Backpagepix

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For more information please visit
www.vw.co.za
Sunday, March 11
Castle Premiership:
Wits v Swallows
Kick-off: 3.45pm
Venue: Bidvest Stadium

March 3
Castle Premiership
Won 1-0 v Arrows
Venue: Germiston Stadium

February 24
Absa Cup
Lost 0-2 v Pirates
Venue: Olen Park

February 17
Castle Premiership
Lost 0-1 v Sundowns
Venue: Loftus Stadium

February 11
Castle Premiership
Won 2-0 v Ajax CT
Venue: Germiston

POLL
Where will Moroka Swallows finish this season?

Win the league
 7%
Top three
 18%
Top five
 22%
Top eight
 52%