Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates | 4 key players to watch

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The DStv Premiership will get off to a thrilling start in 2021 when defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns play host to fellow unbeaten team Orlando Pirates at the Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, January 2.

Kick-off is at 15:30.

SUNDOWNS ENDED 2020 ON TOP OF THE STANDINGS

Sundowns ended 2020 on top of the standings with 18 points, thanks to five wins and three draws in their eight matches.

The Brazilians lead Swallows FC on goal difference heading in the final 22 matches of the season.

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Despite also being unbeaten to date, Pirates are in fifth place, thanks in part to the fact they have only played seven matches, but of those fixtures, the Buccaneers have only won three and drawn four.

In head-to-head stats, Sundowns and Pirates have met in 71 league matches since 1985.

PIRATES HAVE BEATEN SUNDOWNS 21 OUT OF 71 MATCHES

The Brazilians have claimed 30 wins compared to 21 for the Buccaneers, while 20 games have been drawn.

Sundowns have won 14 of 36 home matches in the rivalry, suffering 10 defeats in the process.

Pirates took four points off Sundowns last season, winning 1-0 at the Orlando Stadium in January 2020 before a 0-0 draw in the return game at Dobsonville Stadium in August 2020. The latter match was the first in the ‘bio bubble’ which finished the 2019/20 campaign.

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KEY PLAYERS

MAMELODI SUNDOWNS

Mothobi Mvala – After two goals in as many games at the back end of 2020, Mvala will hope 2021 is a year in which he becomes a key man for Sundowns. His physicality and aerial prowess add a different threat to the Brazilians’ midfield.

Ricardo Nascimento – Pirates have a fast and free-flowing attack, meaning Sundowns centre-back Nascimento will need to call on all of his nous and experience to ensure he offers as much protection to goalkeeper Denis Onyango as possible.

ORLANDO PIRATES

Thembinkosi Lorch – The attacking midfielder netted Pirates’ key goal in a CAF Confederation Cup tie and has shown signs of returning to his very best form in recent weeks. He will be a key danger man that Sundowns will look to keep under wraps.

Richard Ofori – The Ghanaian goalkeeper is expected to return to the line-up after being replaced by Wayne Sandilands for the recent CAF Confederation Cup trip to Angola. Ofori’s shot-stopping and defensive organisation will be vital against the Brazilians.

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