Troubled Stars still a danger, according to Larsen

2008-10-21 00:00

MARITZBURG United will take no notice of the off-the-field problems that have plagued Free State Stars when the teams meet in Saturday’s first-round Telkom Knockout tie in QwaQwa, says assistant coach Clinton Larsen.

After going four matches unbeaten in an impressive start to the Premier Soccer League season, United turn their attention to cup football for the first time since their return to the PSL. The Team of Choice will hope to maintain their winning form against a Stars side who lost coach Owen Da Gama earlier this month, citing interference in team selection from management.

Larsen said United will not be overconfident against troubled, but still dangerous Stars, who finished a more than creditable fifth on their own return to the PSL last season. This season the Free Staters have found the going a little tougher, with just one victory over Bay United out of four league matches.

“I don’t think we’re going to think too much about what’s going on off-the-field at Stars,” Larsen said. “We know they have a strong team and that they are always particularly hard to beat at home, and we’re expecting a very tough game.”

In the absence of veteran captain and midfield schemer Duncan Lechesa, Nigerian attacking midfielder Prince Olomu and big striker Diyo Sibisi will be the dangermen for Stars on Saturday. Sibisi was last season’s second-top PSL scorer with 13 goals.

“Olomu and Sibisi are capable of causing problems,” Larsen said. “But those are not the only players we will be concentrating on.

“We know Stars like to knock the short passes, and we also know that they are very fit and can run at you for 90 minutes. But I feel our coach [Gordon Igesund] has done his homework and that we will have a plan to counter them.”

United have Gary Goldstone back from suspension and the central defender will be keen to get some game-time under the belt to move on from the elbowing incident involving Kaizer Chiefs striker Tshepo Bulu in United’s 3-2 victory in Chatsworth last month. But with Guinean Sylla Mbemba having performed well in United’s 0-0 away draw against Celtic and 2-1 home win against AmaZulu, Goldstone’s return is far from certain.

“The back four played very well in our last two games, and we are still a long way from selecting our final XI,” Larsen said. “There are so many situations that we have to look at, although the coach has an idea about what he is going to do.

“‘Ben’ [Mbemba] came in for Gary and has played very well. He is a very confident player and believes in his ability. We have three quality players for those two positions in Bageta [Dikilu], Ben and Gary, and it’s probably going to come down to choosing horses for courses.”

The match has been switched from the Welkom Rugby Stadium, where the ground is reportedly hard and bumpy, to the smoother surface of Charles Mopeli Stadium in QwaQwa, which Larsen said should favour United’s passing game and “perhaps give us a better chance of winning”.

The assistant coach does not believe the three-week break from the PMB team’s last match against AmaZulu will affect the players.

“The coach has been on the players’ case at every single training session to keep them sharp,” he said. “Last week everyone was jumping out of their skins to play another match the following weekend, but we have managed to keep that positive vibe from our good start and I don’t think the break will affect us at all.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.