Telkom knockout rehearsal

2007-11-13 00:00

Both teams won their respective Telkom semi-finals on the weekend to set up the final the sponsors would have dreamt of between Sundowns, the richest and strongest line-up in the country, and giants Chiefs, the best-supported.

That makes tonight's meeting an interesting taster before the main event on December 1, also earmarked for Durban.

Not that tonight's PSL game will be any less competitive than the cup final.

Sundowns, in fourth place, are well-poised to begin their championship push. Chiefs will be mildly concerned at their mediocre start in the PSL race, and need a victory to buck their 11th position. Then there is also the psychological advantage to be gained going into the cup final.

Of the two sides in the Telkom semis this past weekend, Chiefs were the slightly more convincing in their 1-0 victory over tough Celtic. Like Chiefs, Sundowns were made to struggle against Free State Stars to run out 2-1 winners.

Both sides' goalkeepers were instrumental in their victories and bright prospect Itumeleng Khune at Chiefs, the natural successor to ex-Amakhosi minder Brian Baloyi, who is now on form for Sundowns, could both be influential tonight.

Sundowns may not have dispatched of Stars in convincing fashion, but the league champions did show the class to grind out a win for yet another final following their Absa Cup defeat against Ajax Cape Town in April, and SAA Supa8 win over Orlando Pirates in September.

“The better the team becomes, the more challenges you face and have to accept,” coach Gordon Igesund told Sapa.

“We'll be playing our third cup final this year, we're on track for retaining our league title and it's tough.

“But being a succesful team, and a club that wants success, brings about these kind of challenges.”

Sundowns are still without star forward Surprise Moriri, while left midfielder Dillon Sheppard, who broke his leg in an horrific clash with Stars defender James Matola on Sunday, will be out of action for up to nine months.

Chiefs are missing three key injured players, winger David Mathebula, forward Tshepo Bulu and defender Jonathan Quartey.

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