Amakhosi’s last chance

2011-04-09 00:00

AFTER a hard-fought 1-1 league draw in Nelspruit in midweek, Wits University and Kaizer Chiefs meet again in Nedbank Cup action at Milpark in Johannesburg tomorrow — and this time there can be no shared outcome.

Chiefs, once in rampant, stylish form this season, have hit that slump that title-chasing teams almost always must endure and Wednesday night’s stalemate was their fifth draw in succession.

How quickly Amakhosi can turn around that downturn in form will determine Chiefs’ chances in a thrilling four-way league title race against Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Chiefs are on 47 points in the PSL, six behind leaders Pirates though with a game in hand.

And while the Soweto giants’ focus will be on trying to win a league title for the first time since their back-to-back victories under Ted Dumitru in 2004 and 2005, their proud record demands that South Africa’s cup kings always go in search of any silverware.

So it will be another toughly-contested affair between Vladimir Vermezovic’s style merchants and Roger De Sa’s efficiently-drilled Wits at a packed Milpark tomorrow.

“We played to draws in the last five games, but we didn’t play for a draw; we never play for a draw, and we don’t know how to play for a draw,” Vermezovic told yesterday.

Chiefs have never won the Nedbank Cup in its current guise, though have notched up plenty of trophies in South Africa’s version of the FA Cup, which was most famously known in the early 1990s as the BobSave Superbowl.

And with the league title race anyone’s to win between the four top chasers, the season-ending knockout tournament could be Vermezovic’s last hope of not going trophy-less in a season that started with much promise.

“Wits are a very good team and I think it will be a very interesting game on Sunday afternoon,” the Serbian said.

“Wednesday’s game was very difficult and now we have to prepare for another game in three days. But we have a lot of players who can play. This is a very tough period because now we will play every three days in the next two weeks.”

Bafana Bafana central midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane was Chiefs’ scoring hero with the equaliser on Wednesday night and the energetic playmaker is Amakosi’s most likely source of creativity in tomorrow’s cup tie.

Wits have all to play for as the defending champions, having beaten AmaZulu 3-0 in last year’s final, which was also the official re-opening match of the restructured FNB Stadium.

In the weekend’s other all-PSL last-16 fixture Free State Stars host SuperSport United at Goble Park today. Tonight AmaZulu face First Division Cape side Carrara Kicks at King Zwelitihini Stadium in Umlazi.

Tomorrow’s other fixture sees Third Division BTX Liverpool host First Division Black Leopards at the Griffon Stadium in Welkom. — SR.

Today: Free State Stars v SuperSport United (Goble Park Stadium, 3 pm – live on SABC1), AmaZulu v Carara Kicks (King Zwelithini Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SuperSport 4)

Tomorrow: Wits University v Kaizer Chiefs (Milpark, 3 pm – live on SABC1), BTX Liverpool v Black Leopards (Griffon Stadium, 3 pm – live on SABC1)

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