Will Stars shine on?

2013-04-28 14:00

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Simple equation in Polokwane encounter to gauge destiny of league title

It is a game of mathematics at the top of the Absa Premiership and a simple numerical sequence will decide who takes the title home.

The digits three, six and nine will have more importance for Kaizer Chiefs and Platinum Stars than it ever has in recent seasons.

With Chiefs leading second-placed Platinum Stars by six points, today’s top-of-the-log clash at Peter Mokaba Stadium will go a long way in determining the destiny of the title.

» A Chiefs victory will widen the gap to nine points and move them within touching distance of the title;

» A Stars win will narrow the points gap to three and make the race more intense; and

» In the case of a draw, the status quo remains, with Chiefs keeping their six point advantage.

Then there is the added morsel of Stars doing the double over Chiefs as they are the only side to have previously downed the log leaders.

Although Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has ruled out that revenge would be top of his players’ minds, he said supporters had the right to see it that way.

For Baxter, this will be just another game on their way to the championship.

He refused to believe this was a must-win game for his side.

But in reality, the Englishman knows a victory over Stars will go a long way towards bringing the glory home.

Baxter said Stars’ coach Cavin Johnson was playing mind games by saying the crown was for Chiefs to lose.

“He probably wants to take the pressure off his players but reality is that they have never come so close to winning it and will do whatever it takes to win the title. The players know that they might not get another chance of getting this far and will push to the limit,” said Baxter.

He said he had not made up his mind as to who would replace the reliable Itumeleng Khune between the poles. The Chiefs captain is suspended for this game after picking up his fourth yellow card of the season against Moroka Swallows last weekend.

Without a doubt, Khune has been the force behind Chiefs’ success this season and it would interesting to see how they cope without him.

But Baxter said he had capable replacements in Brilliant Khuzwayo and veteran Arthur Bartman.

Chiefs welcome back Reneilwe Letsholonyane from suspension.

Stars missed a golden opportunity to put pressure on Chiefs when they drew with Chippa United last weekend, something which Johnson admits was a blow.

But he said he was more worried about the fact that his team did not play well on the day than losing out on two points.

“We are not under pressure to get results but to play better football. This is what I have been drumming into our players, that we must go out there and play football and results will come,” said Johnson.

He was confident that his team would bounce back from last week’s sub-par performance and give Chiefs a run for their money. “Wouldn’t it be good to take the title race to the wires?” asked Johnson.

Stars will be without reliable defender Enocent Mkhabela, who is also suspended for this game.

All eyes will be on Bernard Parker, whose brace destroyed Swallows last weekend, taking his tally to 12 goals this season; and Thuso Phala, who will be facing his former club and fellow Botswana international Mogakolodi Ngele.

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