Booth, Zothwane expected to make return for Sundowns at Woodburn

2009-09-29 00:00

BAFANA Bafana’s Confederations Cup hero, central defender Matthew Booth, and influential midfielder Papi Zothwane are expected to return from injury for Mamelodi Sundowns for their Premier Soccer League fixture against Maritzburg United at Woodburn Stadium on Friday night.

Booth and Zothwane were to resume full training today after both missed Sundowns’ 2-1 league defeat against Ajax Cape Town at the Super Stadium on Saturday. Booth was injured in Downs’ 2-0 victory over AmaZulu on September 23, while Zothwane pulled up in the Brazilians’ training session on Friday.

Sundowns’ win over AmaZulu was just their second of 2009/10 in a stop-start beginning to their campaign. Both goals that night were scored by Zothwane and Downs will welcome back the creative skills of their new signing from Lamontville Golden Arrows, who has been resurrecting his career at the under-achieving billionaire giants.

After a period sidelined in a contractual wrangle between Arrows and Kaizer Chiefs, Zothwane was then plagued by injury and poor form after Arrows won a court battle where the midfielder claimed a signature had been forged on an extension to his contract.

This came at the same time as a nightmare performance by Zothwane in Bafana Bafana’s infamous 3-1 African Nations Cup-qualifying defeat to Zambia at Newlands in 2007. The midfielder’s sharp performances for Sundowns so far suggest he is finally putting this period in his career behind him.

Sundowns will hope Booth can help shore up a defence that conceded two goals against Ajax, which could be crucial given the penetrative form of United’s on-form wingers, Felix Obada and Rudolf Bester.

Apart from Zothwane and Booth, and Downs’ host of other highly-paid stars that include Mabhudi Khenyeza, Siboniso Gaxa, Esrom Nyandoro, Vuyo Mere, Brian Baloyi, Matthew Pattison and Elias Pelembe, the Brazilians will also be bringing a fully-fledge global living legend to Pietermaritzburg.

€ Coach Hristo Stoichkov might still not have proved himself in his role on the touchline, and by his results is still clearly finding his feet in the PSL, but no-one can deny his credentials as a player when the Bulgarian was one of the best strikers in the world in the 1990s.

This included being the top scorer at World Cup USA ’94, where his goals inspired a Bulgaria side that included players such as Yordan Lechkov, Emil Kotsadinov and Krasimir Balakov to the semi-finals and fourth place.

Playing for Barcelona, Stoichkov won the Primera Division in four successive years from 1991 to 1994, the European Cup in 1992, and was crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1994. Before collecting his award the Bulgarian, whose first name translates directly to “Christ”, famously proclaimed: “There are only two Christs; one plays for Barcelona, the other is in heaven.”

• Tickets for the game on Friday night are on sale at Computicket, SuperSave in Retief Street, the club offices at 397 Victoria Road and Bhamjee’s Sports.

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