Downs aim to avoid defeat number 7

2007-11-30 00:00

That is Mamelodi Sundowns’ unenviable record against Kaizer Chiefs in cup finals between the two teams, which the Brazilians will be aiming to rectify in Saturday’s Telkom Knockout final at Loftus.

Chiefs and Sundowns have both had a slow start to the season, and sit in 11th and seventh places respectively in the Premier Soccer League. There was little to choose from between the sides in a league dress rehearsal for the final at King’s Park just over two weeks ago, and a close game is expected on Saturday,

The history books, though, tell a different story, showing that Chiefs’ domination of Downs in cup finals has been complete since the sides first met in a final in the 1992 BP Top 8, won 1-0 by Chiefs thanks to Ace Khuse’s winning goal.

It is an intimidating statistic, though one that is not likely to sit too far forward from the very back of the minds of the two coaches on Saturday, with neither Chiefs’ Muhsin Ertugral nor Sundowns’ Gordon Igesund having been part of those previous meetings.

What will be more relevant is that, in recent history, Ertugral did manage to beat Igesund’s Downs in a final at the end of last season in the Absa Cup, master-minding his fourth victory over PSL champions Sundowns for Ajax Cape Town in 2006/07.

And despite the Amakhosi’s cup domination, tomorrow a close, tight, tactical game typical of a cup final is expected.

“When we met two weeks ago in a league match, the game was a competitive and very tight one,” Igesund said this week. “I see it being much the same way on Saturday.”

Sundowns striker Lerato Chabangu, who like a few of his team-mates might be buoyed for the final by a call-up today to the Bafana Bafana squad for the African Nations cup finals, says teamwork will be the key to Downs breaking their poor run against Chiefs.

Chabangu is an option for Sundowns on the left in place of the injured Dillon Sheppard, though he has scored the most goals in the tournament (four) playing at striker. With Ertugral at present preferring the experienced but ungainly pairing of Fabian McCarthy and Cyril Nzama at the back, Igesund might feel Chabangu’s pace will be better utilised up-front.

“As a player you need to ... be able to perform when the coach instructs you to play a certain role and not be stereotyped,” the striker, who is in line for the R100 000 top scorer’s prize, said.

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