Former Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United goalkeeper Calvin Marlin believes the Brazilians head into the 2019/20 Premier Soccer League (PSL) opener on Saturday as favourites.
The retired net-minder has also backed Matsatsantsa coach Kaitano Tembo to have gained valuable experience last season as a permanent coach.
“Yes, it’s funny to open the season with such a big clash. It’s a derby and really about measuring yourself in terms of preparations and readiness for the challenges ahead,” Marlin told Goal.
“I also think it’s always ideal to start against a big team and it’s exciting for the fans and everyone in Tshwane.
"However, I believe Sundowns are the favourites to win this Tshwane Derby because they have had a tough preparation in Africa.
“I wouldn’t really know with SuperSport if they have maybe beefed up or how well they prepared for this season especially this match."
Marlin backed the likes of Aubrey Modiba and Teboho Mokoena to do well for the club, but they have also beefed up with Orlando Pirates duo in Thamsanqa Gabuza and Kudakwashe Mahachi.
In addition, SuperSport parted ways with experienced campaigners such as defender Morgan Gould and midfielder Reneilwe Lestholonyane.
“Yeah well, that experience and keeping the team may be in his favour unless he has injuries. I am not sure if they have strengthened with a couple of players because I have not heard of what they were doing in the background – it’s interesting to see,” he continued.
“He has good players and it’s very difficult when he has lost a couple of players in the first team. However, there are good players like Mokoena, I like him and he impressed last season.
“I know Modiba as a youngster at [Mpumalanga Black] Aces and these are good players and one would hope they bring their A-game on Saturday. SuperSport is a good team and they will want to begin on a high."
On the fact that the Brazilians have signed two players so far in the form of Mauricio Affonso and Nyiko Mobbie from Free State Stars, the Port Elizabeth-born legend explained that Masandawana cannot always go out to the market because they have great players already.
“Yes, it’s good they have been quiet in the transfer market, I mean they have quality and it’s all about beefing up there and there,” expressed the former Michau Warriors net-minder.
“One or two players maximum because their players can’t just become bad players in one season. In the end, continuation is key for a club like Sundowns because they want to defend their title.
“Yeah, I know Sundowns won the first round and lost the second one 2-0 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, but I think that happened because they were tired because of their travels in the continent.
“It’s a new ball game and if I was a betting man, I would definitely give it to Sundowns because they are fresher now."
The encounter will be staged at Lucas Moripe Stadium at 15:00 on Saturday afternoon.