Chiefs and Sundowns' long rivalry continues on Saturday

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File: George Maluleka of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns during an Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus Versveld.

File: George Maluleka of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns during an Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus Versveld.

JOHANNESBURG - Matches between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns are always absorbing and that is not expected to change when the two teams meet in the Absa Premiership at the FNB Stadium on Saturday (start 8.15pm).

“That’s because Sundowns had that urge to become a big club, like Chiefs, and to be able to achieve that they needed to beat us,” says former player Donald &39;Ace&39; Khuse.

"Chiefs, on the other hand, never want to lose against anyone. That vibe of two teams wanting to be the best makes these games so interesting.”

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Since the introduction of the NSL in 1985, Chiefs and Sundowns have faced each other 65 times in the league. Amakhosi have won 27 of these clashes. The Brazilians clinched victory in 20 matches, while 18 ended in a draw.

One of the best matches between the two sides Khuse participated in concerned the 1992 BP Top Eight Cup final, which took place at Soccer City, the predecessor of FNB Stadium. As usual, Khuse was booed by the Sundowns faithful.

“That put, of course, some additional pressure on me,” he reflects, “on the other hand, I knew what to expect and I was ready for it.”

The game was a tense affair with the Brazilians probably being the better side on the day, but it was Khuse who scored the winner in the 84th minute.

“Fani Madida whipped the ball into the box,” the former midfielder remembers with a smile on his face, “and I tapped the ball into the goal with a half-volley. I was so excited that I went on a long run behind the goal.

“It was such a competitive game. They pressed us a lot. However, in the end, we got a chance and we finished it.”

Khuse still feels that was one of the best games he ever played in when it comes to competitiveness and two teams really challenging each other.

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Chiefs had a great side in the 1991 and 1992, winning numerous trophies, including two league titles.

“We had an incredibly strong side in those years,” comments Khuse, who left Chiefs in 1993 to play in Turkey, “the players were disciplined, there was unity, togetherness and that winning mentality – the spirit was so high.”

One of the reasons for the success in those years was, according to Khuse, the fact that the Chiefs squad had “a lot of leaders, who never accepted a player to be lazy, either in a game or on the training ground. We all pushed each other.

“Look at that Top Eight final against Sundowns. The win was purely a team effort. They had the upper hand for most of the match, but we fought and we had that ambition. We had that will to win.”

Khuse is presently working at Chiefs’ development structures. He points out that he’s eagerly looking forward to Saturday’s game at FNB Stadium.

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“It’s one of those game I always look forward to,” he admits, “especially now that we really have a momentum going with the team having won four of their last five league matches.

“We have a lot of quality in the team, including several youngsters with the right attitude. “Saturday’s match will be a big one. I can’t wait.”