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Highlands Park v Mamelodi Sundowns

Undefeated against Highlands Park! Mamelodi Sundowns have no reason to slip up in PSL title race

08:58 SAST 2020/08/14
Peter Shalulile, Highlands Park & Anele Ngcongca, Mamelodi Sundowns, March 2020
The Brazilians have not lost a competitive match to the Lions of the North and Friday's encounter should be a walk in the park for them

Mamelodi Sundowns visit Highlands Park on Friday night in what will be their third competitive match in the space of a week. 

Pitso Mosimane's men beat Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup before playing to a goalless draw with Orlando Pirates earlier this week. 

Highlands Park are their next stop and this clash is important to them because it could see them move to within a single point of Kaizer Chiefs in the PSL title race. 

They are currently on 45 points with a game in hand while Amakhosi still lead the table with 49 points from 23 league matches. 

And going into this encounter, the Brazilians have no reason to slip up and here is why... 

Total dominance 

The two sides - Highlands Park and Sundowns - have met seven times across all competitions since 2016; that includes the season before the Tembisa-based outfit got relegated back to the National First Division (NFD) after being promoted a year before. 

In those seven games, Sundowns showed great dominance - winning five and drawing the other two matches against the Lions of the North. 

The stats show that the Brazilians enjoy playing against Highlands Park and while they sometimes have had to grind out results, they eventually came out on top. 

This includes that 5-0 win over Highlands Park in November 2016, a 2-1 win for Sundowns in January 2019 as well as a 1-0 win in October 2019. 

Highlands Park only managed to get draws in two league matches against Sundowns in 2017 and 2018; a 2-2 draw at Makhulong Stadium and 0-0 draw at Sundowns in August 2018. 

Interestingly, the Lions of the North twice held their own against Sundowns in Cup matches - both of which came in the Nedbank Cup in 2016 and 2020 - losing 1-0 after extra time on both occasions. 

Sundowns have scored 12 goals in those seven matches to Highlands Park's three to further prove their total dominance against their Gauteng-based opponents. 

Of course, Owen Da Gama will seek some sort of revenge while also trying to cement their place in Top 8. 

They are placed eighth on the log with 31 points from 24 matches - three points ahead of ninth-placed Bloemfontein Celtic who have played a game less. 

Fitness levels 

Sundowns have already had a feel of competitive football during Covid-19, something that Highlands Park haven't experienced as yet. 

This has given Mosimane and his technical team enough chance to see how far the players are in terms of their fitness levels and plan better for the upcoming games. 

Mosimane now knows which players can last for 90 minutes and which ones cannot, and that is the advantage he has compared to Da Gama. 

While Da Gama may have a slight advantage in knowing what to expect from Sundowns, it is Mosimane who has an opportunity to win because he can afford to change things around based on what his players gave him in the last two games. 

For instance, he started with Lebohang Maboe on the right-hand side of the defence against Pirates but the option he has would be to push him up the field in a more attacking role without compromising his usually 4-4-2 system. 

The two games Sundowns have already played gave Mosimane ideas as to when to change the tempo of the game - either slowing it down or going for the kill.