D-Day for Downs title hopes

JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns’ biggest competition in the Absa Premiership race is Mamelodi Sundowns themselves.

The Brazilians have a penchant for scoring silly own-goals off the pitch and going off the boil on it when things are easy.

Sundowns will appear before the Premier Soccer League’s disciplinary committee today and then take on a potential banana-peel in Black Leopards at 7.30pm at Loftus Versfeld.

The Tshwane side is charged with contravening rule 16.3.2 of the National Soccer League handbook after they “allegedly fielded an ineligible player” in Wayne Arendse against Bidvest Wits in October last year.

Thapelo Morena picked up an injury during warm up and Sundowns replaced him with Arendse who wasn’t in the match-day 18.

The rules stipulate that any replacements to the starting personnel before the start of the match, once the team sheets have been submitted, must be made with the players who are in the match-day 18.

This isn’t the first administrative blunder Sundowns have made. There was a mistake on the figure of Keagan Dolly’s buy-out clause a couple of years ago and they also accepted former captain Alje Schut’s card with the wrong year.

Club president Patrice Motsepe promised to act and ensure that such blunders were not repeated but that was not the case.

The timing of the announcement of these disciplinary hearings have been questioned. Sundowns’ case comes in the middle of a heated race.

Tomorrow log leaders Bidvest Wits’ chief executive Jose Ferreira and centreback Robyn Johannes will appear before the DC for bringing the league into disrepute.

Ernst Middendorp, who is preparing for the much-anticipated Soweto Derby, also has to think about his long-standing charge of misconduct for alleged improper statements made concerning the acting chief executive of the PSL, Mato Madlala, and the appointment of referees to his former club Maritzburg United’s matches.

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Wayne Arendse of Mamelodi Sundowns during the match against Highlands Park in August 2018. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

None of these three teams can afford to be distracted by these side-shows.

Sundowns have to try and make up ground by closing the gap between them and the Clever Boys. The Brazilians are six points behind with three games in hand.

One of those games in hand is against Lidoda Duvha who also have to appear before the DC. The club and their coach Dylan Kerr have been charged with “misconduct arising from abusive and insulting utterances towards a referee and contemptuous, discriminatory and disparaging remarks to the match commissioner during their Absa Premiership fixture against Baroka FC” on January 6.

Mosimane, a master of psychological warfare, will use this case to psyche up his players like he did in their march to winning the 2016 CAF Champions League, labelling that campaign as a fight against all odds, with the PSL refusing to move some of their games like they did with Orlando Pirates previously.

Jingles thrives at being cornered. He has transferred that skill to his team, who do well under pressure but struggle when things are too easy.

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The clash with Lidoda Duvha is in between. Sundowns boast a dominant record against them.

Sundowns have won their last four meetings and scored 13 goals in the process. It won’t be an easy encounter as Leopards are a tricky side under Kerr who has reinvigorated them.

This match will be a big psychological test for Sundowns who can be their own worst enemy at times.

Football Reporter

The Star

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