Mamelodi Sundowns will be eager to bounce back to winning ways when they welcome Absa Premier leaders Ajax Cape Town to the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Wednesday evening.
The Brazilians dropped outside the top eight with a 2-1 defeat to Golden Arrows last time out, their second successive league loss.
Sundowns defender Mario Booysen is wary of the threat the Urban Warriors pose, especially after wining the MTN8 final over the past weekend.
The lanky centre back admits it is a vital game for the Brazilians who will be eager to close the gap on the top teams having already fallen five points behind Ajax at this early stage of the competition.
“Obviously they are on a high, they have been doing well – they are top of the log. It is going to be a tough one, but we have to focus on what we have to do,” said Booysen.
“Yes, we lost two games and now the people are looking at the negatives. We have to look at the positives and focus on that and build on that. It is all about getting the three points at the end of the day no matter who we are playing against.
“It is vital we get the three points.”
Urban Warriors head coach Roger de Sa has praised Sundowns ahead of the tie and believes Pitso Mosimane’s men will shake their early season blues.
Ajax come off a memorable weekend and will be eager to show that their MTN8 triumph was no fluke by keeping hold of their place atop the league standings.
“After winning the MTN8 Cup, now it is tough for us. We play Sundowns in midweek and it’s a great challenge for us because they have some great individual players and they are a team that is wounded. But we like a challenge. So a tough one for us,” said De Sa.
“Watching the recent videos of Sundowns shows me how good they are. They will end inside the top three come the end of the season. So it’s a tough away game for us against a very good side and at the same time we want to show that winning the MTN8 was no fluke.”
Ajax lost their opening game of the season to Bidvest Wits, but have since recorded three straight wins – their last a 2-1 win over Polokwane City.
In head-to-head stats, Sundowns and Ajax have met in 32 league matches since 1999/2000.
The Brazilians have claimed 12 wins compared to 10 for the Urban Warriors, while 10 matches have ended in draws.
Sundowns have won seven of their 16 home matches against Ajax, suffering four defeats in the process.
Last season the Urban Warriors won 1-0 at home, but the Brazilians claimed a 2-1 victory in the return leg in Tshwane.