Leopards have their backs against the wall

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Leopards’ new Nigerian mentor Austin Eguavoen will get a baptism of fire at Thohoyandou Stadium when his new charges take on a resurgent Sundowns in a league fixture.

Sundowns will be looking to build on their impressive cup win over Supersport United at the weekend when they take on struggling Leopards.

The Brazilians defeated Tshwane rivals Matsatsantsa 2-1 at Olympia Park, ending their losing streak against United in cup competitions and securing a place in the last 16.

Now, though, they must return to league action and try to ground out some positive results in their last eight Absa Premiership matches, starting with this fixture away to Leopards.

The defending champions have no real hope of holding onto their title but they must at least aim to finish in the top half of the table, a goal which is five points away in their present position of 12th.

Finishing in the top half is something Leopards couldn’t even be bothered with: they would be content merely to survive the season and retain their top flight status.

To that end they have hired Eguavoen, a former coach of the Nigerian national team, who will take charge of his first league game at the helm of Leopards this week.

The new coach has a huge ask on his hands: Leopards are marooned at the bottom, three and six points adrift of fellow strugglers Jomo Cosmos and Thanda Royal Zulu, respectively.

Lidoda Duvha's last league victory came, ironically, against Sundowns: in a 2-1 away win on December 5, 2007, thanks to a brace from Fisher Kondowe.

The Brazilians have the edge in head-to-head stats, having won six games to Leopards' five in 13 league meetings since 2001/02, and the Tshwane team has outscored their opponents 22 goals to 11.

Leopards:Date H/A Opponent Result08/03/08 A Orlando Pirates D 0-005/03/08 H Moroka Swallows L 1-301/03/08 A AmaZulu L 0-223/02/08 H Free State Stars L 1-220/02/08 A Platinum Stars L 0-2

Sundowns:12/03/08 H Santos D 0-008/03/08 H Bloemfontein Celtic D 0-005/03/08 A Golden Arrows W 2-127/02/08 H Moroka Swallows L 1-324/02/08 H BidVest Wits L 2-3

2001/02Sundowns 2 (Ndlovu, Nunens) Leopards 1 (Netshidzivhe)Leopards 0 Sundowns 0

2002/03Leopards 2 (Sikhwivhilu, Dlamini) Sundowns 0 (Mudau)Sundowns 2 (Vitinho 2) Leopards 0

2003/04Sundowns 1 (Marumo) Leopards 1 (Netshidzivhe)Leopards 1 (Netshidzivhe) Sundowns 0

2004/05Leopards 2 (Netshidvizhe, Sikhwhivhilu) Sundowns 1 (Mashehe)Sundowns 3 (Ndlovu, Sapula, Tiene) Leopards 0

2005/06Leopards 1 (Mayinga) Sundowns 0Sundowns 5 (Moriri 2, S.Ndlovu, Torrealba, Ngwenya) Leopards 1 (R.Ramudzuli)

2006/07Sundowns 3 (Sapula, Moriri, Ndlela) Leopards 0Leopards 0 Sundowns 4 (Torrealba, Moriri, Sapula 2)

2007/08Sundowns 1 (Moriri) Leopards 2 (Kondowe 2)