September 25, 2017

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Stars target ailing Downs’ scalp

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Strugglers face off…Free State Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns have both suffered defeats in the Nedbank Cup and the league

Strugglers face off…Free State Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns have both suffered defeats in the Nedbank Cup and the league

Stars go into this game on the back of two successive defeats at the hands of Orlando Pirates and  Baroka FC, buy they hope to turn the corner at the expense of the defending champions   

Free State Stars will be looking to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss to struggling Baroka FC by registering a massive upset when they come up against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in an Absa premiership clash at James Motlatsi Stadium on Saturday.

Stars go into this game on the back of two successive defeats at the hands of Orlando Pirates (4-1) in a the Nedbank Cup and against Baroka FC (2-1) in the league, respectively, but they hope to arrest the losing streak against the defending champions and lift themselves out of the relegation zone.

Stars have managed to register two points in their last three league games, which has seen them remain on 14th position with 23 points, and head coach Serame Letsoaka says they will be hoping to exploit the champions defensive frailties.

“We need the three points. It’s a must win for us, a do or die affair to be frank,” said Letsoaka.

However, the history between the two teams suggests otherwise as the champions have always gotten the better of Ea lla Koto and scoring a no less than 11 goals in their last three encounters.

“Those are exactly that, statistics, and football is not only about history repeating itself but also about new history being made and, going into this match, we have every intention to turn the corner,” said Letsoaka.

The coach will look to players like captain and midfield hard man Paulus Masehe to once again provide leadership in the middle of the park as he did against Pirates. Sinethemba Jantjie, who has attracted the attention of the likes of Pirates and Sundowns ahead of next season, will have to be at his utmost best on the left flank.

Goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi will have to shape up after the Congolese international conceded eight goals in the last three matches, something even the coach admits is a problem.
“Our defence has to come to the party. It’s one of the key areas where we’ve not done well,” explained the coach.

In his interview with football publication Soccer Laduma, the Brazilians’ captain Hlompho Kekana conceded that they are not yet ready to dominate the PSL.

Sundowns are on a run of five Absa Premiership matches without a win for the first time since coach Pitso Mosimane took charge back in December 2012.

Last season saw the Chloorkop-based outfit cruise to a record seventh league crown, while also collecting the Telkom Knockout cup, last year’s CAF Champions League title and the CAF Super Cup earlier this year.

The reigning domestic and continental champions, however, currently sit in fifth place on the log standings, trailing leaders Bidvest Wits by nine points with two games in hand, and were also eliminated from the Nedbank Cup by Golden Arrows last weekend.

Kekana said the team might have set themselves too high a target in thinking they could “dominate” on the domestic front, while also competing on the continent.

“As players we always want to win matches and, to be honest, we are a team that really set ourselves very difficult goals to achieve,” confessed Kekana.

Mosimane remains in denial of the problems his troops are confronted, saying opposition goalkeepers are men of the matches, which is a reflection of good performances from his troops despite failure to collect the maximum points needed to defend the title which looks to be slowling slipping out of their grasp.

Full Absa Premiership fixtures

14/04/17 Maritzburg United 17:00 Baroka FC
15/04/17 Golden Arrows 15:00 Ajax Cape Town
15/04/17 Kaizer Chiefs 18:00 Chippa United
15/04/17 Highlands Park 20:15 Orlando Pirates
16/04/17 Free State Stars 15:00 Mamelodi Sundowns
19/04/17 Polokwane City 19:30 Platinum Stars
19/04/17 Cape Town City 19:30 Bidvest Wits
19/04/17 SuperSport United 19:30 Mamelodi Sundowns

 

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