Downs closes in on league title chase

2010-02-11 11:35

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Hristo Stoitchkov will not get carried away

and contemplate winning the Absa Premiership in his first season in South

Africa.

Downs cut their Pretoria City rivals SuperSport United’s lead at

the top of the table to three points after defeating Platinum Stars 1-0 at

Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium last night, and the Brazilians can draw level

with the defending champions on Sunday when they host Santos at the same venue.

Kick-off is at 3.30pm.

Speaking after his side had edged out a defensive Stars, the former

Barcelona and Bulgarian star striker said: “I am not even thinking of the

championship.

“We still have four matches to play and I concentrate on one match

at a time. I will start thinking about Santos on Friday after the players have

had a chance to recuperate and rest.”

But the former Bulgarian national coach admitted he was delighted

with his side performance against the stubborn Stars. “We played well and I

enjoyed watching some really good moves.”

Stoitchkov praised his side for a solid team effort and refused to

single out individuals such as Elias Pelembe and Matthew Pattison in midfield,

who were both outstanding and ran the Stars midfield ragged.

“I am happy with all my players, but we play as a team – not as

individuals.”

However, the player who shared the Golden Boot award at the 1994

World Cup finals in the United States, was full of praise for goal scorer

Surprise Moriri who scored the only goal when he came on as a second half

substitute - his first appearance after a six month layoff due to injury.

“I was delighted for Surprise to score in his comeback game. It was

frustrating for him to be out for so long.”

But Stoitchkov would not be drawn on whether the Bafana Bafana

striker would start against Santos.

Stars coach Steve Komphela, reckons Moriri is ready to fight for

his place back in the Bafana squad ahead of the World Cup in June.

Said Komphela: “Moriri’s goal was brilliant. It showed his

experience and he has recovered from injury.

“It may be a little late in the day, but I feel it would do his

confidence a power of good to be selected for next month’s Bafana camp in

Brazil.

“Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and his two assistants, Pitso

Mosimane and Jairo Leal, all know Surprise and what he can contribute.”

But Komphela was not down-hearted at losing to a Downs side

determined to collect three points. “I thought we might have got a draw, but to

be fair Sundowns were better at the set-pieces and were determined because they

are fighting for the title.

“However, I was pleased with my players performance and our goal is

still finishing in the top eight.”

Stars meet Free State Stars in the weekend’s only other fixture at

the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday. Kick-off is at 3.30pm.

“We expect a difficult game as FS Stars are fighting relegation and

need the points.

“But this match against Sundowns showed we can hold our own with

the top clubs and if we keep up the momentum we will reach our goal of finishing

in the top eight.”

FS Stars drew 1-1 at home with fellow strugglers BidVest Wits and

moved further away from the danger zone which is still occupied by bottom club

Jomo Cosmos, who were beaten 1-0 yesterday by Bloemfontein Celtic at the Rand

Stadium.

But second bottom Mpumalanga Black Aces caused an upset by

defeating Maritzburg United 1-0 at home yesterday. Aces are now three points

behind FS Stars with three matches to play.


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