SuperSport United’s top striker Atusaye Nyondo will make his return for the log leaders in their Premiership encounter against Santos in Atteridgeville on Tuesday evening.
Nyondo missed their previous two games after suffering chest pains in the team bus heading to last week’s Telkom Knockout first-round match against Golden Arrows.
“Nyondo’s done well for us and we missed him in those two games, but he’ll be there tomorrow,” United coach Gavin Hunt said on Monday.
Hunt was not concerned that his team had to battle for their scrappy 1-0 win over Wits on Saturday, fighting back to net the winner in the dying moments after being reduced to 10 men with midfielder Mogogi Gabonamong shown a red card early in the second half.
Other sides chasing them in the league race had also struggled at the weekend, Hunt pointed out, with Kaizer Chiefs narrowly beating Platinum Stars 1-0 and Orlando Pirates fighting back for a 2-1 victory over log bottom Jomo Cosmos.
“Kaizer Chiefs were the same on the weekend and Orlando Pirates as well were lucky to win,” Hunt said.
“I felt that we played a good, compact game and gave a good performance on the day.”
Amatsatsantsa a Pitori will aim to increase their lead at the top of the standings with Chiefs and Moroka Swallows breathing down their necks.
They will line-up against a Santos side carrying some confidence from recent wins against Maritzburg United, in the league and the cup, as they bounce back from a disastrous start to the campaign.
“Santos always give us problems and are always hard to play against,” Hunt said.
“Every game is tough for us, but we’ll see.”
Meanwhile, Maritzburg take on second-placed Chiefs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
This is the first of three “home” matches for the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands outfit in the windy city after they agreed to a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
Fixtures against Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic later in the season have been earmarked for the picturesque World Cup venue, rather than their home ground, Harry Gwala Stadium, in Pietermaritzburg.
The Team of Choice have hit a recent slump, suffering a humiliating 7-0 loss to SuperSport last month before they twice went down to Santos.
While there are no injuries or suspensions in the squad, they will be bolstered by the availability of nippy striker Prince Olomu who was recently unavailable for personal reasons.
“It’s how you bounce back that counts,” said Maritzburg coach Ian Palmer.
“We have had a test of character in the last few games, but we’ve been in PE since Saturday, hard in preparation for this match … We conceded with 30 seconds to go in the Cup, and carried the most chances at goal in the league matches against Santos. Football sometimes can be about luck.”
Amakhosi carry 19 points after nine matches, two adrift of the log leaders, with the Phefeni Glamour Boys aiming to maintain their pressure on the season’s early pacestters.
Following their victory over Stars at the weekend, Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic praised his charges after internal troubles had affected their build-up to the fixture, with Jimmy Tau controversially sacked as captain.
“It was not easy to be calm after all the things that happened last week,” Vermezovic said.
“But the players are professionals and sometimes these things happen in football … We found the right way to fix our problem by winning the match, and we showed character.” — Sapa