The CAF Champions League group stages commence this Friday, 8 March when Orlando Pirates host FC Platinum in a much-needed victory for head coach Milutin Sredojevic and his charges. While, on Saturday evening, Mamelodi Sundowns will take on Lobi Stars in Pretoria as they seek to keep their hopes alive in Group A.
Isaac Mabotsa gets in on this week’s action as the former Kaizer Chiefs right back gives his predictions on the following matches.
Match of the Week
Mamelodi Sundowns v Lobi Stars (CAF Champions League)
Match 6 Soccer 6 Pool March 9 S6 V1 P1
League Rankings: Mamelodi Sundowns 1st (Premier Soccer League) & Lobi Stars 11th (NPFL)
Useful facts: Lobi Stars go into this match perhaps more desperate for a result than Mamelodi Sundowns, as a loss will pile on a lot of pressure on the Nigerian side ahead of their last group encounter against ASEC Mimosas. But with the home side intent on revenge, after they lost 2-1 to their opponents in their earlier fixture in Enugu, they should be expecting nothing less than a tough fight. Downs are now aware of what Lobi Stars are capable off and will not want to put a foot wrong if they themselves to make the passage to the next round of the competition. As usual, they will look to their vociferous supporters to make life difficult for the visitors at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Lobi Stars are not as huge a powerhouse in Nigeria as, say, Enyimba and this is their second appearance in the CAF Champions League, so experience could also come into play on Saturday. Downs will want to avoid déjà vu, as they bowed out at this stage last year and unfancied Horoya progressed at their expense.
Isaac Mabotsa: Mamelodi Sundowns win
Kaizer Chiefs v Maritzburg United (Premier Soccer League)
Match 4 Soccer 6 Pool March 9 S6 V1 P1
League Rankings: Kaizer Chiefs 6th & Maritzburg United 16th
Useful facts: Maritzburg United are having their tails up after their incredible come-from-behind 2-1 win over AmaZulu last Friday and will savour nothing more than the prospect of building up a run of wins, with the season at a very critical stage. Chippa United losing to SuperSport United was a big result for Eric Tinkler’s men, as they trail the Port Elizabeth-based outfit by only three points, with eight games to go for both. This is the period in the season where teams, because of circumstance, sometimes need favours from other teams and the Team of Choice seem to be in that situation at present, but will be aware that they have to stick to their end of the bargain first and foremost – win your own games. And against Kaizer Chiefs, who have been counted out of the title race by many, they will face one of their sternest challenges so far, at FNB Stadium. Amakhosi are also high on confidence and do know that winning as many games as possible at this stage is key, with some of the teams at the top of the standings still to face each other. It remains to be seen whether, in their desperation to get the goals that will see them starve off relegation, they won’t open themselves up at the back, something that the Soweto giants could capitalise on.
Isaac Mabotsa: Kaizer Chiefs win
AmaZulu v Bidvest Wits (Premier Soccer League)
Match 5 Soccer 6 Pool March 9 S6 V1 P1
League Rankings: AmaZulu 11th & Bidvest Wits 3rd
Useful facts: Expect Bidvest Wits to come out guns blazing after losing in spectacular fashion to Cape Town City at home this past weekend, having gone 2-0 up at half-time. That result saw them slip to third place on the league table, one point behind second-placed Orlando Pirates, who were set to face Bloemfontein Celtic at the time of writing. The Students have been top of the table for the better part of the season and will want to reclaim their position, but facing AmaZulu in Durban is always a tricky affair. Usuthu have been their own worst enemies with their poor defending in recent games and Cavin Johnson will have worked on that by the time this fixture comes around. Revenge is also on the cards after Wits walloped AmaZulu 3-0 in the early stages of the season.
Isaac Mabotsa: Bidvest Wits win