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Mamelodi Sundowns vs Orlando Pirates: Five players who could decide Gauteng showdown

4:02 AM GMT+8 17/12/2021
Thembinkosi Lorch, Orlando Pirates, December 2021
Masandawana are set to welcome the Buccaneers at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in one of the biggest matches on the South African football calendar.

  • Khuliso Mudau of Mamelodi Sundowns challenges Deon Hotto of Orlando Pirates

    Who will decide Gauteng Derby?

    Sundowns will be looking to maintain their unbeaten record in the PSL for this term, while Pirates are keen to boost their hopes of challenging for the PSL title by securing a win in Pretoria.

    GOAL looks at five players who will be determined to decide the Gauteng Derby showdown.

  • Themba Zwane, Mamelodi Sundowns, October 2021

    Themba Zwane

    The accomplished midfielder, who is blessed with mesmerizing dribbling skills, stepped up after Sundowns' talisman Peter Shalulile was substituted due to injury in the game against Baroka FC on Tuesday.

    Zwane grabbed a late winning goal against Baroka which earned Sundowns their third successive win in the PSL and he was deservedly named Man of the Match. Nicknamed 'Mshishi', Zwane could be the man to inspire Sundowns to another win on Friday having scored and provided an assist against Pirates last season.

  • Thembinkosi Lorch, Orlando Pirates, December 2021

    Thembinkosi Lorch

    The influential attacker looked sharp against Swallows FC on Tuesday as he used his incisive passes, silky skills and unpredictable movement to unsettle Amaswaiswai's defence. Lorch was involved in the build-up to Pirates' goal.

    The Soweto Derby match was Lorch's first start of the season after recovering from a long-term injury and Bucs will be able to look to the 2018/19 PSL Footballer of the Year when they face the PSL champions as he has outstanding Big Match Temperament. Lorch's performance in this Gauteng Derby encounter could be key to a Pirates win.

  • Pavol Safranko, Mamelodi Sundowns, August 2021

    Pavol Safranko

    The well-travelled marksman is expected to lead Sundowns' attack with Kermit Erasmus suspended, Thabiso Kutumela out injured and Pirates tormentor, Shalulile an injury doubt.

    A tall centre forward, who is deadly in the air, Safranko has scored three times across all competitions for Downs this term and his aerial prowess is likely to create problems for the Pirates defence. The Slovakia international will view this massive encounter as an opportunity to produce a great performance in order to prove that he deserves to be a regular.

  • Deon Hotto, Orlando Pirates, November 2021

    Deon Hotto

    The powerful winger's good form has carried Pirates in the last few weeks with the Buccaneers missing key attackers such as Lorch and Vincent Pule. Hotto has scored three goals and provided two assists in his last five league games. 

    His direct dribbling and powerful speed are dangerous and destructive as they enable him to cut open any opposing defence. The Namibia international was influential as Bucs ended Stellenbiosch FC's unbeaten record this season - scoring a brace on the day and he will be confident of ending another unbeaten record when he faces Sundowns.

  • Andile Jali, Mamelodi Sundowns, September 2021

    Andile Jali

    The former Pirates central midfielder has arguably been one of Sundowns' most consistent players thus far this season, alongside Shalulile, having picked up several Man of the Match accolades including one against Royal AM last week.

    Blessed with tremendous midfielder skills such as passing, recovering balls and tackling, Jali has become the heartbeat of Masandawana's midfield. Once Jali starts dominating the midfield battle against the opposition, Downs are usually unstoppable.