Sundowns ‘have the best side in the country’

Santos coach Boebie Solomons will be changing his tactical plan when they host early season pacesetters Mamelodi Sundowns in an Absa Premiership clash at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night.

Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

Santos, like Downs, are unbeaten after three matches, but Downs have enjoyed a perfect start to the season with a full house of nine points — including a last gasp 2-1 win over neighbours and defending champions SuperSport United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium at the weekend.

Santos have seven points from two wins and a draw. Solomons, whose side edged Mpumalanga Black Aces 1-0 in Witbank at the weekend, said Downs would be his side’s biggest test so far.

“It is like playing against a national team,” he said of the impressive squad the Brazilians have assembled.

“They have international quality players in every position and even those on the bench are top class. They have the best side in the country and with their financial muscle are always going to be the side to beat.”

Solomons said he was delighted with the way Santos have started their league campaign and was determined to take points off Downs.

“If we are to become serious contenders then we have to take points off sides like Sundowns at home. I realise this will be a tactical game after watching them beat United and Platinum Stars 2-0 recently.

“They are a good all-round side,” said Solomons.

Solomons said Downs, who finished runners up to United last season, have dangerous players in strikers Katlego Mphela and Mabhuti Khenyeza, and he rates midfielder Matthew Pattison highly.

“I cannot understand why Pattison is not a regular in the Bafana Bafana set-up. He is a superb player.”

But Solomons has realised he will have to keep an eye on other midfielders such as Mozambique star Elias Pelembe and Zimbabwean ace and captain Esrom Nyandoro.

“They are simply a class side. They way they fought back in the last few minutes against SuperSport when they were trailing 1-0 and won the game 2-1 in the final seconds, was a warning to us they never give up and have a great fighting spirit.

“But having said that, we know what to expect and will be ready for them. It is important to collect as many points at home so we will not be sitting back and allow Sundowns to come at us. We are determined to test their defence.”

Solomons will be looking to the experience of captain Tyren Arendse and Erwin Isaacs in midfield, plus striker Eleazer Rodgers, to unsettle the Downs defenders where Matthew Booth has looked impressive this season.

Wednesday’s league programme was shortened after the PSL postponed three matches involving the four MTN8 semifinalists, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows and Ajax Cape Town.

Swallows play Ajax at Dobsonville on Saturday at 3pm in their MTN clash while Bucs and Amakhosi meet in the cup Soweto Derby second leg at the FNB Stadium on Sunday, also at 3m. – Sapa

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