Arrows target trophy for KZN

2009-10-24 00:00

LAMONTVILLE Golden Arrows will be aiming to be the first club from KwaZulu-Natal to win a trophy in 12 years when they face Ajax Cape Town in the MTN8 final at Orlando Stadium tonight.

Arrows will also be trying to win their first piece of silverware in their eight years competing in the Premier Soccer League as the Umlazi-based club contest their first cup final.

Manning Rangers were the last team from KZN to win a trophy when Gordon Igesund’s Chatsworth-based team were crowned the inaugural PSL champions in 1996/97. Before that, AmaZulu were the last trophy-winning team with a 3-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs in the Coca-Cola Cup final at FNB Stadium in 1992.

The last KZN team to reach a final was Rangers, who lost 3-1 to Moroka Swallows in the Absa Cup in 2004.

Arrows, on their day one of the most stylish teams in the PSL, take on the young, technically astute, tactically advanced Ajax in a final that has the makings of an attractive game.

The Durban team have gone into something of a slump since reaching the final, and coach Manqoba Mnqithi has said tonight’s showpiece event has perhaps acted as a distraction to his players in the league, with established players protecting themselves from injury and fringe players trying too hard to impress. The final was oringinally set for September 26 but delayed because Ajax had five players doing duty in the SA squad taking part in the U20 World Cup.

But Arrows will have no need to hold back tonight.

Ajax will be under the stewardship of stand-in coach Jan Pruijn for the final. New coach Foppe de Haan, a former SC Herenveen and Netherlands U21 boss, has yet to take his post following the resignation two weeks ago of Muhsin Ertugral, who has joined Turkish side Sivasspor in a lucrative deal.

“If we control possession and implement our precision-passing, then we can win the game,” Pruijn said this week.

The Dutchman said he is confident his depleted side will have what it takes to overcome Arrows.

“I don’t want to talk about the players that are not there, that only shows disrespect for the rest of the squad. There is enough talent in our team to win the MTN8 cup!” said the caretaker coach.

The Urban Warriors will be without key players such as suspended striker Diyo Sibisi, while Eduardo Ferreira, Stanton Lewis and Granwald Scott are all out injured. Furthermore, captain Brett Evans and midfield maestro Nhlanhla Shabalala are fighting niggling injuries and are doubtful starters for the game.

With that being said there is also added pressure on Pruijn to ensure his side performs well in the cup final considering how well Ajax have done in the past. The Urban Warriors have claimed three cup titles since their formation just over 10 years ago.

This fact might see them go into the final as slight favourites over an Arrows side who have no experience in finals. Mngqithi, however, is adamant that he feels no pressure coming into the game.

“We view this final as a stepping stone to greater things for our club. I am confident in my side and I am sure we will do well on Saturday,” the former Howick school teacher said.

With no injuries and a fully fit squad, Arrows do look the more settled of the two teams. And Arrows’ top goal-scorer, and last season’s league top-scorer, Richard Henyekane, is sure to cause Ajax problems with his pace and ability to turn defenders.

Even Pruijn admits to the dangers of the Bafana Bafana fringe striker: “Henyekane has been impressive and we will watch him closely. He will pounce on any mistakes we make at the back.”

On TV

Kickoff: 8.15 pm – live on SABC1 and SuperSport 4

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