Amakhosi’s big boys return

2011-01-29 00:00

KAIZER Chiefs will have the full force of their midfield and attacking prowess available for the first time in recent weeks when they meet Maritzburg United in tonight’s Premier Soccer League game at FNB Stadium.

Winger Siphiwe Tshabalala returns after missing league title chasers Chiefs’ last three matches of the season, having been on trial at English championship side Nottingham Forest.

During the Bafana star’s absence, Chiefs lost 1-0 to Ajax Cape Town away in one of the most attractive matches of the PSL season so far before bouncing back with a 3-1 home victory over AmaZulu.

Amakhosi are many people’s pick as favourites for the title given the stylish and effective football they have displayed under Serbian Vladimir Vermezovic. And they showed the character champions are made of with a last-gasp 2-2 away draw against Bloemfontein Celtic in midweek, thanks to Knowledge Musona’s injury-time equaliser.

Vermezovic had to do without two suspended players — striker Sthembiso Ngcobo and more importantly, midfield dynamo Reneilwe Letsholonyane — against Celtic. Both are available again tonight against Maritzburg.

The game against the well-supported Free Staters was moved from Sunday due to a waterlogged pitch at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, and Vermezovic said he would have preferred for his players to have had a week’s rest ahead of tonight’s game.

“We would have preferred to play the game on Sunday as scheduled, but then Mother Nature had other ideas,” the coach said.

“The game was an entertaining one and I am quite sure that both set of fans enjoyed the kind of football dished out on the evening. I am proud of the players for the character they showed after going two goals down.

“We showed tremendous strength to come back and equalise when everything looked to be working against us. The league is still open and I believe no team can claim to be comfortable at the top this time around.”

United go into the match in almost bizarrely erratic form. After successive victories (away against Wits University and their 1-0 home win against Mpumalanga Black Aces) the PMB team lost 3-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria two weeks ago.

They bounced back with a 3-0 victory over then second-placed Ajax Cape Town before last weekend’s reversal by the same margin against Lamontville Golden Arrows at Chatsworth Stadium.

That result left United right back in the last-three dogfight, though Vermezovic said Chiefs will take nothing for granted against struggling but clearly unpredictable opponents.

“People are already saying that Maritzburg United is struggling but we all know that when teams play against Kaizer Chiefs they play as if their lives depends on the game. We are not expecting any easy games at this time of the season,” the coach said.

United have full-back David Booysen, red-carded against Arrows, and central defender Byron Hendricks suspended.

New German centre-back Christian Alder looked shaky against Arrows, though could have been suffering the effects of a particularly sultry Durban afternoon. This evening he will get his first taste of what it is to play against the country’s best-supported club at the Calabash.

Sapa reports that league contenders Orlando Pirates, who face Free State Stars at Botshabelo Stadium this afternoon, have suffered a major blow with star winger Daine Klate possibly out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.


Last night: Vasco Da Gama 1 Lamontville Golden Arrows 0, Ajax Cape Town 2 Moroka Swallows 0.

Today: Free State Stars v Orlando Pirates (Botshabelo Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4), AmaZulu v Bloemfontein Celtic (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1), Kaizer Chiefs v Maritzburg United (FNB Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SABC1).

Tomorrow: Mamelodi Sundowns v Platinum Stars (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4).






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