Kaizer Chiefs can extend their lead to eight points in the championship chase and strike a psychological blow as they reach the halfway point of their programme.
But if Mamelodi Sundowns win their home match they will cut Chiefs’ lead to just two points and still have a game in hand – theoretically putting themselves in the driving seat, one win from going top.
Both clubs would have liked to have had at least one competitive warm-up match before such as a potentially important clash, but go into the game cold after having last played before Christmas.
For Amakhosi, it is a chance to win a seventh successive game, while the Brazilians hope to snap a run of four league games in a row without a win.
Both coaches have also had to contend with doing without key players, conscripted into the SA squad at the African Nations Championship over the last weeks of preparation.
They all went back to their clubs on Monday with hardly enough time to slot back in with teammates, who have been training feverishly since the turn of the year.
Downs had a week in Zambia, where they played quality friendly games. Chiefs have had less competitive warm-ups, cloistered at their Naturena headquarters where the focus has been more on who is going and who is coming.
Bids to get Katlego Mphela and Edward Manqele onto their books from Sundowns were always going to be a long shot ahead of tonight’s game, although there is a chance the tenor of negotiations might change after the final whistle.
George Maluleka is expected to debut alongside Reneilwe Letsholonyane, who will be back from injury.
The hosts have concerns over their regular central back pairing of Alje Schut and Rashid Sumaila, who are carrying hip and hamstring injuries respectively. If neither can play, then Wayne Arendse will have to be partnered with a makeshift centre-back. The best choice would likely be Esrom Nyandoro, but he did not go to Zambia with the club because of “personal issues”.
Sundowns officials said Cuthbert Malajila and Sibusiso Khumalo are both doubtful too.
Kickoff is at 7.30pm.