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Pirates having nightmares on player injuries, Downs’ look set for the match!

Mhlongo (ankle) and midfield enforcer Sarr (thigh) both sustained injuries in the goalless draw against Platinum Stars at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Wednesday.

Mhlongo is consequently out of the showdown with Downs leaving a battle for the number one jersey between Jackson Mabokgwane and Siyabonga Mpontshane.

Sarr still has a chance of making the trip to Tshwane after limping off the field in the first half against Dikwena, with Abbubaker Mobara taking his place in Rustenburg.

Interim coach Augusto Palacios, however, is boosted by the availability of defensive-minded utility player Edwin Gyimah, who returned to training following his participation at the African Nations Cup in Gabon with Ghana- albeit didn’t play.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane says he’s anticipating a tight affair on Saturday.

Pirates looked blunt on Wednesday evening against Platinum Stars as they, continuing on from the theme in 2016 for the Soweto giants, who have now gone six games in all competitions without a win.

Their last victory coming away to Chippa United in November, which even then was a scrappy 1-0 result for Augusto Palacios’ side, who sit 10th in the standings and nine points off the title pace.

Sundowns, meanwhile, started their year with a narrow 1-0 over Bloemfontein Celtic and Mosimane says even though Pirates have been struggling, they are always a tough side to break down, even if the Brazilians are technically at home.

“It’s not about Pirates, it’s not about Celtic, it’s about the game. It’s one game at the time,” said Mosimane.

“Look, we got the result (against Celtic) and it was difficult. We know it’s going to be difficult again against Pirates but we know we got an experience and it’s one-nil we’ll take it but we’ll see.

“Pirates are very strong team, very respectable team and you know when they play Sundowns at Loftus they always give us a hard time. It’s two big giants… we’ll see what happens.”

The coach also spoke of the importance of the club’s extended break and adds that games against Celtic and Pirates will be a good dress rehearsal for when they face CAF Confederations Cup champions T.P Mazembe in the CAF Super Cup.

The African champions will host the DRC giants on February 18 in the first-leg, with the eventual winner of the two-team tournament pocketing $100, 000 while the runners-up will walk away with $75,000.

“We needed that, the break, we needed it. We took four weeks and then we came back for three weeks. We wanted to stay longer but you can’t stay longer,” he added.

“You’ve to come back and play because we’ve been playing for 17 months. Remember, we’ve got a different program and for us this is like the beginning [of the season] because we’re playing [CAF] Champions League.

“Champions League starts now in February, so as much as we have resumed the local league, but we are playing different leagues and we understand this.

“To be honest, we’re now at the beginning of the season of the Champions League and we use two games; Pirates and Celtic to prepare for the CAF Super Cup, we’ve got a cup final against (T.P) Mazembe, so is good preparation.”

Kick-off is at 15h30 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

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