Arrows, Stars eye cup redemption

2010-03-13 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — It has been a disappointing league season for Lamontville Golden Arrows, who finished in 12th spot, and the Umlazi-based team will be looking for some more cup solace, beginning with their Telkom Knock-out first-round clash against Platinum Stars at Chatsworth Stadium today.

Arrows are arguably the strongest team on paper in KwaZulu-Natal, but finished the lowest of the three behind Maritzburg United (11th) and AmaZulu (ninth). This after a start to the season that included winning the MTN8 with a spectacular 6-0 thrashing of Ajax Cape Town in the final at Orlando Stadium in October.

Like Arrows, Steve Khompela’s Platinum Stars had a low finish in the league at 14th, so it will be both sides aiming for cup glory and redemption in the Telkom Knock-out.

“Arrows and Platinum Stars are in the same boat and this is going to be a very competitive match,” Abafana Bes’thende midfielder Musa Bilankulu said ahead of today’s clash.

“The Telkom Knock-out provides us with a chance to redeem ourselves, and the players are determined to do just that. We didn’t play badly in the league — I think we were very unlucky with injuries which forced the coach [Manqoba Mngqithi] to shuffle the team around a lot, which destabilised us.”

Bilankulu says he is happy to have been drawn against a less fashionable club like Stars, rather than one of the PSL’s more glamorous teams, which would have guaranteed a sell-out crowd in Chatsworth.

“Sometimes playing one of the big clubs can turn out to be your worst nightmare. I’m happy to be playing against Stars, both sides have been struggling in the league and this should be an evenly-balanced contest,” he says.

Stars won the tournament back in 2006 when they were still known as Silver Stars, but that side, under the guidance of Owen da Gama, was a very different outfit to the one currently coached by Steve Komphela.

Stars midfielder Dillon Sheppard believes the loss of three key Arrows players — Richard Henyekane, Siyabonga Sangweni and Thanduyise Khuboni — to the national team camp in Brazil, could be of benefit to the North West side.

“The three guys they are missing are instrumental players. But Arrows have a way of introducing players you have never heard of that can be dangerous — we will need to tighten things up at the back a bit because mistakes have cost us recently,” added the former Sundowns winger.

In tonight’s game Bloemfontein Celtic take on Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium.

Celtic coach Owen Da Gama said: “All the players are ready to do their duty against Pirates and although we are missing a few players due to injury and suspension, it won’t be a problem as we have guys that are ready to stake a claim for next season and you can expect nothing less than 110% from them.”

Pirates will be without playmaker Teko Modise, anchorman Andile Jali and goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, three of six players on duty in Brazil.

“Pirates have a big squad and have talented players that can fill in for the internationals. I don’t think they will be weaker, in fact I think those players coming in will want to prove a point,” Da Gama said.

Tomorrow Ajax Cape Town must beat an improved Moroka Swallows side at Newlands if they want to remain on track to defend their Telkom Knock-out trophy.

The Urban Warriors (seventh) may have finished above the Birds (eighth) in the PSL, but recent results point to Swallows being the team in form.

Ajax have been dismal in front of goal, and midfielder Lance Davids, also in Brazil with Bafana, is amongst the club’s leading scorers, along with striker Thulani Serero.

As coach Foppe de Haan, who has just extended his contract with the club for another season, points out, it’s up-front where his concerns lie.

“There haven’t been any issues with our defending; finishing is our problem. We work on it every day, but the problem with South African players is that they hurry too much. Look at the Champions League — strikers look first where the keeper is, and where the goal is,” De Haan said.

AlAlso tomorrow, PSL champions SuperSport United take on Mpumalanga Black Aces at the Puma Rugby Stadium.


Today: Lamontville Golden Arrows v Platinum Stars (Chatsworth Stadium, 3 pm); Orlando Pirates v Bloemfontein Celtic (Orlando Stadium, 8.15 pm)

Tomorrow: Ajax Cape Town v Moroka Swallows (Newlands, 3 pm); Mpumalanga Black Aces v SuperSport United (Puma Rugby Stadium, 3 pm).

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