Sundowns face two Soweto giants in back-to-back matches within four days

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DSTV Premiership log leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns are bracing themselves for a challenging week ahead. The Brazilians will face the two Soweto giants, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs within the space of four days in two different competitions.

Sundowns will visit Pirates in Orlando on Wednesday evening for a league match before hosting Amakhosi in the second leg semi-final of the MTN-8 in Atteridgeville on Saturday afternoon.

Many are backing Mamelodi Sundowns to win their seventh league title in a row this season. The Pretoria-based club has already opened a massive gap at the top of the table with a 100% record after winning their first six matches of the season.

Sundowns are seven points clear of second-placed Golden Arrows and 11 points ahead of Pirates who have played two games less.

“I said to the players already that I’ve started Chiefs I said to them this morning and I confessed to them because of how tight the schedule is. So because I feel some of the homework with Pirates six, seven games now is done, now is to move a little bit to that but I can’t shift my focus from that I’ve got to go one hundred with the players into the next one, and the next one is the most important one,” says Rhulani Mokwena, Mamelodi Sundowns coach.

Pirates are aiming to bounce back after suffering their first loss in nine matches. The Buccaneers lost 1-Nil to Jwaneng Galaxy of Botswana in the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League in Gaborone on Sunday afternoon.

“We try to go to the game with the guarantee that we can compete as good as possible and that’s all I think. Yesterday we didn’t get the result that we were looking for obviously but it’s only the first half of the game and now we have to focus on the next one. It’s going to be very exciting game for us and for sure everybody is going to be ready on Wednesday,” says Jose Riveiro, Orlando Pirates coach.

Video: A challenging week ahead for Mamelodi Sundowns 

Anticipated clashes

The match between Pirates and Sundowns is one of the most anticipated clashes on the local calendar. Wednesday’s match at the Orlando Stadium is expected to be a sold-out affair and the logistics team has been hard at work to ensure that it’s smooth sailing.

“The biggest single challenge for Stadium Management as the venue authority and my colleague seating next to me is going to get people in and out of the venue on a week day with the kick-off at half-past seven. Except for the normal challenge is that we now have people returning home from work at around five o’clock as well that’s going to mix with the people and the traffic on the way to the venue,” says Bertie Grobbelaar, Stadium Management director.

For the very first time, there will be a park and ride service for the supporters aiming to attend the match. Fans can park their cars at the FNB Stadium from where a shuttle service will ferry them to the Orlando Stadium and back.

“A traffic management plan has been devised to make sure that we efficiently manage the free flow of traffic that’s before, and during, and especially after the game. We know that people will be leaving to various destinations so it’s important for us to make sure that traffic is free flowing after the game and the major routes that will be affected on the day is of course the N17, that’s Soweto highway, Klipspruit valley road, Mooki street, and Matharlow street and the road closures will be implemented from four in the afternoon,” says Xolani Fihla, Johannesburg Metro Police spokesperson.

Gates open at half past four and there will be a lot of live entertainment for the supporters ahead of the match. Fans have been urged to arrive early to avoid unnecessary delays.