SuperSport, Wits look to reignite title hopes

SuperSport United will be looking to avoid a hat-trick of Absa Premiership defeats when they host Bidvest Wits at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday evening.

Kick-off is at 8:15pm CAT.

SuperSport suffered a second successive league loss (and a third from their last four matches) when they went down 1-0 away to Stellenbosch FC on February 14. Matsatsantsa have claimed 20 points from 11 home matches this season.

Despite losing ground in the title race, head coach Kaitano Tembo remains hopeful that SuperSport can make a late charge for league glory with the top five teams sure to all still drop points along the way in what promises to be exciting few months of football.

"All we need is a little bit of consistency in the next four games," Tembo said.

"A lot of the teams in the top five will still have to play each other. We still have to play Pirates; we are playing Wits now. Wits are going to play Chiefs [twice]. They still have to play Pirates.

"Sundowns still have to play Chiefs and Pirates, so points are going to be dropped along the way.

"I think in the last three or two games, that's where we will start knowing who will win the league."

Wits have won just one of their last four league matches and their last outing ended in a 2-2 draw at home to Highlands Park on February 19, with goals from Haashim Domingo and Thulani Hlatshwayo. The Clever Boys have claimed an impressive 20 points from nine away matches this season.

While the Soweto Derby is likely to dominate the headlines this weekend, Wits head coach Gavin Hunt teased that the big match is actually happening in the Mpumalanga province between teams placed fourth and fifth on the league standings respectively.

“Who plays in the derby? Oh, I thought it was SuperSport and Wits, we play SuperSport so a good result will be for us to win! The derby is for caviar, crayfish and sandwiches, that is what it has become," Hunt joked.

He added: "I was happy with the performance against Highlands and against Maritzburg [despite the results], but the game management at times could have been better."

Players to watch:

SuperSport United

Dean Furman: The SuperSport skipper will have an important role to play in the middle of the park with Thabang Monare, Cole Alexander and Phathutshedzo Nange all at Wits' disposal. In a game that is sure to be won in midfield, Furman's experience will be key in not only breaking down Clever Boys attacks, but getting good go-forward ball for those in front of him.

Bradley Grobler: If SuperSport are to make a late title charge, they will need goals. In Grobler the club boasts a proven goalscorer. Matsatsantsa failed to score in their two most recent league games and will be counting on Grobler to break their duck. He has netted 10 goals in 19 league appearances this season.

Bidvest Wits

Thulani Hlatshwayo: A lot of pressure has been placed on Hlatshwayo's shoulders in recent weeks. The continued integration of Lorenzo Gordinho in the starting eleven has seen the Wits skipper start at right-back and in a back three with Buhle Mkhwanazi and while he would've welcomed the challenge, there is no doubt that it has caused some problems. On the plus side, the Bafana Bafana captain has reignited his own form in front of goal and heads into this weekend's fixture having scored in his last two matches.

Deon Hotto: The Namibia international proved to be the difference in Wits' most recent away win and will play a key role once more as the Clever Boys go in search of all three points. Hotto showcased his versatility at left wingback in the club's Nedbank Cup win earlier this week and could be deployed in a more deeper role once more this weekend. Either way, Hotto is a real attacking threat down that left flank - chipping in with both assists and goals.