SuperSport United may still be bearing the scars of their 5-0 mauling at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns on Thursday‚ but there is no time to dwell on that humiliation as they face up to their Tshwane rivals in the league tomorrow.
The chaotic nature of Sundowns’ fixture scheduling this season means there are two clashes between the pair within a week‚ and SuperSport know that if they are to have any chance of winning the league title this season‚ victory is a must.
A changed Matsatsantsa selection thumped Liberian side Barrack Young Controllers 5-0 in the African Confederation Cup on Sunday to advance to the pool stages of that competition, which starts in mid-May.
But failure to beat Sundowns tomorrow will likely see them out of the title race by the time those fixtures get under way.
Victory would see SuperSport potentially move to five points behind joint leaders Cape Town City and Kaizer Chiefs‚ having played the same number of games as the former and one fewer than the latter.
City host BidVest Wits as well tomorrow in a game that could change that equation.
Given that SuperSport must still play Wits‚ City and Chiefs this season‚ all the other sides in contention for the title‚ their fate would be somewhat in their own hands.
SuperSport coach Stuart Baxter found it difficult to explain their drubbing on Thursday and knows he does have a squad to hurt Sundowns‚ but says it may be more in the mind for his players.
“We showed a lack of character and quality to follow a game-plan‚ in our individual technical ability we didn’t show what we could do,” Baxter said.
“It looked like we were watching and admiring Sundowns rather than being in the game.
“It’s easy to say‚ ‘let’s just move on’‚ but you can’t. Because this has to hurt. The response to this has got to be to stand up and show character.
“Show discipline‚ desire‚ belief in your own and the team’s ability. That bounce-back has got to be a considerable one.”
But recent history‚ in league clashes at least‚ does not bode well for them.
The last six meetings between the clubs in the Premier League have all resulted in Sundowns wins‚ with The Brazilians managing 17 goals‚ almost three a game‚ and SuperSport finding the back of the net just twice in that time.
It is a damning record‚ with SuperSport’s last league success more than four years ago.
That win was also the last time SuperSport claimed an outright victory over Sundowns in all competitions – a run of 10 games – though they did claim victory on penalties in the Telkom Knockout after a 0-0 draw earlier this season.