/ 1 February 2010

Make or break for Chiefs as PSL resumes

Moroka Swallows and Kaizer Chiefs have two different goals as the Absa Premiership season resumes on Tuesday and the 16 teams head into the final straight.

The two rivals clash in the Soweto Derby at the Johannesburg Stadium on Tuesday night. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Amakhosi are challenging for the title while the inconsistent Birds are in eighth spot and hope to remain at least there when the season ends on March 7.

This match is a make or break game for Chiefs’ hopes of overhauling the two title favourites, leaders and defending champions SuperSport United, and second placed Mamelodi Sundowns.

But the Birds always manage to rise to the occasion when meeting their Soweto cousins. They defeated Chiefs 2-1 in the first round and if the Birds get their act together, have the ability to do the double.

Birds assistant coach Zeca Marques, however, believes the five week break could be a blessing — or work against all clubs.

“With only six games remaining in the league programme we have to not only hit the ground running, but sprinting against Chiefs,”
Marques said on Sunday.

“There can be no settling down as there is simply not enough games left to play. If clubs take time to settle down, they could miss the boat.

“Our goal is a top eight finish and we know that every game is important.”

Birds will be minus two key strikers in Shaun Haschick, who has a groin injury, while Collins Mbesuma has not reported back to training since playing for Zambia in the quarterfinals of the African Nations Cup against Nigeria in Angola last Monday.

Marques refused to be drawn on their absentee, saying the matter would be addressed when Mbesuma finally pitches up.

But Marques said the club are not too worried as they have the likes of veteran former Bafana star Siyabonga Nomvethe, Lungisani Ndlela, David Radebe and promising teenager Leonard Augustine all putting their hands up for a place in the side.

Chiefs will be without their Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who is suspended and is expected to be replaced by Arthur Bartman.

The match which is Swallows’ home game, was as originally scheduled for the Dobsonville Stadium but the poor state of the pitch has forced the Birds to move the game to the Johannesburg Stadium.

But the switch in venue will not be a concern for Chiefs as they believe every game is like a home game to them, thanks to the fantastic support they get wherever they play.

With Sundowns playing Bloemfontein Celtic at the Super Stadium on Wednesday, a win over Swallows would see Chiefs draw level with the Brazilians on 44 points, but Downs would have two matches in hand.

In Tuesday’s other matches, bottom club Jomo Cosmos face a testing afternoon at the Rand Stadium where they face modest Maritzburg United. Ezenkosi ended 2009 with a 1- 0 win over Santos and coach Jomo Sono will be asking his players to kick on and collect another three points. Golden Arrows play AmaZulu in what promises to be a juicy Durban derby at the Chatsworth Stadium and in Tuesday’s other fixture Ajax Cape Town host Platinum Stars at Athlone Stadium. — Sapa