Santos need to upstage Stars to regain credibility
SANTOS are looking to return to some semblance of for m when they take on Platinum Stars in Rustenburg this afternoon (kick-off 3.30pm).
It hasn’t been the best of times for Santos of late.
Not only have they been far too conservative and defenceorientated in recent weeks, but they have also tumbled down the PSL log. They are currently in 10th spot, with 14 points from 10 games.
Their opponents today, Platinum, are next best, in 11th position, with 13 points from 10 games.
The difference – and the danger – for Santos, however, is that Platinum are an improving team.
They started the season badly, but since the return of Owen da Gama as coach, their campaign has gradually gained momentum.
And in Platinum’s stronghold today – the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace – Santos can expect a torrid time indeed from the home side.
The other Cape side, Vasco da Gama, is in action tomorrow after noon, when they face Bloemfontein Celtic in the Free State capital.
The big question there is just how well Vasco will go without suspended striker Sibusiso Zuma.
Zuma is suspended after picking up three yellow cards.
There are a few other interesting fixtures on the weekend’s PSL programme, the penultimate before the Christmas recess.
Gordon Igesund’s new club, Moroka Swallows, look to continue their attempt to move away from the relegation zone when they host Orlando Pirates in Dobsonville today (kick-of f 3.30pm), while, tonight, Kaizer Chiefs try to get their faltering league campaign back on track against Bidvest Wits in Polokwane (kick-off 8.15pm).
Igesund replaced German coach Rainer Zobel last month.
In his debut as Swallows coach, Igesund’s men returned with a hard fought 1-1 draw over Santos in Cape Town last Friday night – and it would appear that already his influence on the players is evident and bearing fruit.
“Gordon has been like a breath of fresh air,” said Birds captain Lefa Tsutsulupa.
“He is a straight talking coach; one that the players appreciate and respect. We know where we stand with him and what he wants and expects from the players.”
Tsutsulupa said his teammates would have added incentive to beat Pirates and record their first win of the season.
“Pirates beat us in the MTN8 final and our slide started after that defeat in Durban,” he said.
“We aim to set the record straight and it’s the perfect game for us to get our first win and start climbing off the foot of the table.”
Igesund said his team would be positive and promised they would attack Pirates.
“There is no quick fix to Swallows’ problems, but beating Pirates would go a long way in resurrecting the side. I am confident we can surprise,” Igesund said.
Meanwhile Chiefs need to change their mindset – and fast, too, said Amakhosi coach Vladimir Vermezovic.
He admitted he was worried about his side losing to socalled smaller teams. Chiefs recently lost to Santos, Vasco da Gama and Free State Stars.
Inbetween, they scored back-to-back wins in the league and Telkom Knockout Cup final over their arch-rivals Pirates.
“I do not know what is going on in the players’ minds,” said Vermezovic. “However, there is a problem and I need to fix it.”
Chiefs face a tough clash against a young Wits side and Vermezovic needs to get his side in the right frame of mind.
He said he had been disappointed with some of the players’ attitudes after winning the cup final by beating Pirates 3-1 earlier this month at the FNB Stadium.
“For some, winning the cup is enough, but for me it is not enough. I do not like losing and I want to bring back Chiefs’ killer instinct against Wits,” he said.
“Why can we do it against Pirates, but not against Stars and Vasco?
“I realise that it is the culture of South Africa fans that beating Pirates twice is good and everyone is happy, but not me... I want consistency and to win the league.
“We cannot do that if we keep losing at home. We dropped six points – against Vasco and Santos – and need to close the seven-point gap between ourselves and leaders Mamelodi Sundowns. – Sports Staff and Sapa