Brazilians have eye on final against Warriors

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

Off-the-boil PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns have played down tomorrow evening's clash against perennial rivals Orlando Pirates.

The two South African soccer giants meet in a Premiership second round clash at Ellis Park stadium at 7.30pm.

Sundowns won the first round through a controversial penalty at Loftus stadium when Lucky Lekgwathi was adjudged to have felled Peter Ndlovu by referee Jerome Damon, an incident that could not be conclusively proved by television replays.

"Our focus is firmly on the Absa Cup final. We have won the league and want to throw everything into ensuring we win the double," said Sundowns coach Gordon Igesund, whose team takes on Ajax Cape Town in the final on May 26.

"I am not going to risk anyone for the Pirates game. I know there is pride at stake and we want to enhance our brand and satisfy supporters but I cannot risk injuries and suspensions in the Pirates game.

"I have given players who have not had enough game time in our past few matches and I will decide whether to follow that trend in this game. I want everybody fresh for the final," said Igesund, who must also face Benoni Premier United, Gaoufel Gafsa (Confederation Cup return leg) and Jomo Cosmos before the final.

For their part, the Buccaneers will be looking to cement their position in the top eight and still have a chance to unseat Moroka Swallows and finish runners-up for a CAF Champions League spot.

Most punters will tell you Igesund's statements are nothing more than an attempt to lull Pirates into complacency.

No match between the two has lacked spark and it is only second to the Soweto derby in status.

Sundowns have, in recent years, held the upper hand. The last time Pirates triumphed over Sundowns was on November 14 2004, when they beat the Brazilians 2-1 at Loftus and the result was brutally reversed when Sundowns embarrassed Pirates 4-0 at home in the second round.

Last season the two played out 0-0 and 1-1 draws, respectively.