PSL teams enter the stormy season

Free State Stars face a tough four match Absa Premiership programme that co-coach Steve Komphela described as a major test for his Bethlehem-based side.

Stars—who were beaten 1-0 by title chasing Orlando Pirates at Ellis Park last Saturday night—play wounded Mamelodi Sundowns at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Wednesday night and after that FS Stars travel to Rustenburg’s Olympia Park to face Moroka Swallows on Saturday. Next up is a home clash against Platinum Stars next Wednesday and then an away fixture against Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus on April 4.

Said Komphela: “It is a tough programme but that is the beauty of the PSL. These are big challenges and we must be up for them.
It is going to test the players, playing four big matches in a cluster. It is like a big wave coming at us. But we remain positive.”

Komphela said meeting Sundowns after they were clobbered 2-0 away to bottom-of-the-log Bay United last Sunday makes his team’s task more difficult.

“We played Pirates on the back of their defeat against Swallows and now face Sundowns on the back of that defeat against Bay. Downs will be like wounded tigers. They know that losing to us will all but end their hopes of winning the title. That means they are going to try extra hard.”

But Komphela said if Stars showed the same commitment as they did against Pirates and took their goal-scoring chances, then they would give Downs a run for their money.

Said the former Bafana Bafana skipper: “We played well against Pirates in the first half and the only problem was we failed to score from the chances we created. That cost us the game. What we have to do against Sundowns is approach the game focused for 90 minutes and make sure we take our chances.”

Komphela said despite losing to Pirates, his side would be positive and attack the home side. “I believe in being positive and that we will go on attack like we did against Pirates.”

Big spending Downs’ loss to Bay seriously dented their title hopes, but they have the depth and strength to bounce back, but so do Stars, who are fighting for a place among the top eight at the end of the season.

Said Komphela: “I watched Bay beat Sundowns. The difference was Bay were hungrier and wanted to win more.”

Komphela said while his side does not have big name stars, they rely on team work and hard work. He will be looking to his strikers Sthembiso Ngcobo, Tebelo Mofokeng plus hard-running Paulus Masehe to
unlock the Downs defence while the Brazilians hope that Sibusiso Zuma, Surprise Moriri and Collins Mbesuma bring along their shooting boot.

Swallows host Santos at Olympia Park and assistant coach Zeca Marques said the teams were in the “stormy season”.

Said Marques: “Teams are now desperate for points for different reasons and we expect plenty of drama as we go into the final straight. Santos will not be easy but we need three points to stay in contact with the leaders.”

Leaders SuperSport United face a tricky trip to Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium where they play AmaZulu. The home side come off two 0-0 draws
away to Ajax Cape Town and at Chatsworth against Kaizer Chiefs last Sunday. United can expect a tough 90 minutes.

In Wednesday night’s other fixture Ajax play Bay at the Athlone Stadium. - Sapa

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