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Stars ready for Chiefs, says Da Gama

Platinum Stars coach Owen da Gama will need to give no motivational talks ahead of his side’s Absa Premiership clash against unbeaten Kaizer Chiefs at the Rand Stadium on Saturday night.

“The players are always up for matches against Chiefs. A good performance [against Chiefs] can put a player on the soccer map,” Da Gama said. “I have no problem this week in getting players motivated. They are as eager as I am to pit their strengths against one of the best sides in the country.”

Da Gama said the three-week break Stars and other sides enjoyed, due to the staging of the MTN8 competition and last week’s Fifa international date, had done him and his players a world of good.

“This break came at the right time for me,” he said.

“Due to the fact that I joined Stars in August, three weeks before the kick-off of the league, I was unable to do proper pre-season training and planning with the players.

“I was able to rectify that during the last three weeks and sort out all the teething problems I would normally have to deal with in pre-season.

“Also, the break gave me time to get all my injured players fit and ready for Saturday.”

Da Gama’s side have four points from their four league matches this season.

And while Da Gama believes a successful performance against Chiefs could “take Stars to a new level”, he stressed he had tremendous respect for their opponents.

“I am not going to jump and predict we will win, but we are going to attack and try to take home three points,” he said. “There is no use sitting back against a side like Chiefs.”

Amakhosi have collected seven points from three matches and are one of the form teams in this early stage of the season.

‘I like to get those bigger clubs out of the way as early as possible’
Da Gama said he was pleased to be playing traditionally strong sides early in the season.

“I like to get those bigger clubs out of the way as early as possible,” he said. “Winning those games is always a major early boost for the players.”

Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic is minus star winger Siphiwe Tshabalala, who injured his hip during Bafana Bafana’s bruising 0-0 African Nations Cup draw against Sierra Leone in Freetown at the weekend.

Da Gama, however, pointed out that Chiefs have the depth to be competitive, even without their best players.

“They showed their depth in the Macufe Cup [played in Bloemfontein at the weekend] where the likes of strikers Kaizer Motaung Jnr, Jose Torrealba and Abia Nale all played and shone. So Chiefs have plenty of quality players in reserve,” he said.

Da Gama is delighted with his new striker, Zimbabwean Terrence Mandaza, who was signed at the start of the season from Botswana outfit Township Rollers, where he scored 42 goals last season.

“Mandaza was injured for our first three matches but showed his potential when he played in our last fixture against AmaZulu where he scored the equaliser in the 2-2 draw,” Da Gama said.

“I also have depth in the squad, especially in attack where Bradley Grobler and Namibian Henrico Botes are doing well, so we have the ammunition to take the game to Chiefs.”

The only Stars player unavailable is midfield kingpin and captain Dillon Sheppard who is suspended. — Sapa

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