Downs look to dim Stars in Tshwane

Mamelodi Sundowns will look to get the better of Free State Stars and continue their unbeaten run in the Absa Premiership when the teams meet at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday, 7 November 2018.

Kick-off is at 7.30pm CAT.

Sundowns returned to winning form (after back-to-back draws in early October) when they edged Chippa United 1-0 away from home on October 27. The Tshwane side remains unbeaten in the league this season.

The Brazilians, however, have yet to win as hosts this season: all three of their home games have ended in draws, being held by Kaizer Chiefs, Highlands Park and Bidvest Wits.

Stars played to a second successive come-from-behind 1-1 draw when they held Black Leopards in Thohoyandou on October 28.

Ea Lla Koto have claimed just two points from six matches on the road this season – though those two points have arrived in their last two league games.

In head-to-head stats, Stars and Sundowns have met in 57 league matches since 1986. The Tshwane side has claimed 29 wins compared to 10 for their Free State rivals, while 18 matches have ended in draws. The Brazilians have won 17 of 29 home matches in the rivalry, suffering just three defeats in the process.

Last season ‘Downs took four points off Stars in the teams’ two league matches, winning 2-1 in the Free State in the first half of the season, before playing out a 1-1 draw in the return game in Tshwane. The Brazilians are unbeaten in their last 14 league games against Ea Lla Koto.

Previous line-ups

Sundowns’ line-up from their 1-0 win over Chippa on October 27: Onyango, Ngcongca, Lebusa, Nascimento, Lakay, Kekana, Jali, Zwane, Maboe (Mabunda 79’), Sirino (Brockie 84’), Mahlambi (Ali Meza 64’).

Stars’ line-up from their 1-1 draw with Leopards on October 28: Sangare, Mobbie, Keita, Tema, Phungwayo, Hlubi (Masina 46'), Maruping, Gandze, Jantjie, Rodgers, Moseamedi (Bhengu 57').

What the teams are saying

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane

“We are going through the teething stages. That's why I asked our people to be patient with us. We are mending the team, it's in [the] construction phase,” explained ‘Jingles’.

"It will flow properly, but not yet. If you look at our position on the log I think it's okay because it is the way it is, with too many draws. But we all know games in hand are not games won.

Free State Stars coach Luc Eymael

“It will be a tough match but we have been preparing well. We have to continue with the collective strength we have shown and finish our chances – this will make us a tough prospect for anyone, even the league champions,” said Ea Lla Koto’s Belgian tactician.

Mamelodi Sundowns key players

Gaston Sirino – The Uruguayan has proved an important attacking option for Sundowns this season. His intelligent movement brings his fellow attackers into play, while his sharp finishing has also caught the eye.

Ricardo Nascimento – Whether faced with Eleazar Rodgers or Judas Moseamedi (or both), Sundowns defender Ricardo Nascimento will face a tough test in terms of physicality and aerial challenges.

Free State Stars key players

Eleazar Rodgers – The beanpole striker will be eager to see some action against one of his former teams. Rodgers’ height and aerial power also allows Stars to use width and crossing to great effect in their attack.

Sinethemba Jantjie – One of the men tasked with providing width and pace will be Ea Lla Koto winger Sinethemba Jantjie. The 29-year-old has become an important part of Stars’ team in recent years and will hope to impress against Sundowns.