Mamelodi Sundowns v Supersport United
Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United clash in the Tshwane derby in the pick of the opening weekend's Absa Premiership games at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
Supersport have won only one of their last 15 encounters with Sundowns, although that victory did come in their last meeting in April with Grant Kekana and Lungu Ghampani getting the goals.
Matsatsantsa will be looking to improve on their sixth-placed league finish last campaign this season. Tembo Kaitano's squad has been boosted by the return of the youngest ever Bafana Bafana player Fagrie Lakay to the squad after he returned from a loan spell at Bidvest Wits.
Sundowns' most high-profile addition is highly-rated Uruguayan striker Mauricio Affonso, but he picked up an ankle injury while shooting in pre-season training. Fellow South Americans Gaston Sirino and Emiliano Tade were also a casualty of having to play on the bumpy pre-season surfaces.
Coach Pitso Mosimane wanted his side to prepare on less than ideal pitches to prepare for conditions he expects to face in the CAF Champions League, but the Downs mentor admitted this may have slightly backfired.
"We have Sirino who has a quad. It’s giving him problems. We have Emiliano Tade who got a knock on the knee when we played against TS Sporting. We had Mauricio who has an ankle (injury)," said Mosimane.
"He was trying to shoot, but I like to take them to those places, the pitches are not good. I know why I take them there and that’s what you get when you take those players to those conditions. But it’s not serious injuries."
Supersport have a nightmarish schedule to get their league campaign underway, with games against Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates to follow, and Tembo believes it is imperative to start well.
“It is key for us to have a good start, but we have four tough games to begin with. Those games will map out the rest of our season‚” said Tembo.
“We always want to go out and compete and make sure we fight. We are also in the mix of the teams who want to win the league.
“Last season we started well but then all of a sudden we had about four of our top and most influential players out because of injuries.
“Our rhythm was compromised‚ we had to start again and find new combinations, and that’s when we started introducing new young players to get game time.
“I think it will be a little bit different this season. We’ll have a good start this time round‚ looking at the fitness level of the boys.”