The league race
This weekend we return to the FNB Stadium to face a daunting Free State Stars that has been quite a handful in the past seasons. Having lost against them in Botshabelo and sharing the spoils at the Peter Mokaba Stadium point to their competitiveness and inclination to cause us major upsets when least expected.
As current log statistics show, they are dangerously submerged at No 3 ready to strike like a leopard stalking its prey. They won two of their last games whilst we dropped one to at least stave off an unwelcome drop in our standings. They have scored two goals better and are hogging the Free State limelight of consolidating their squad with quality players from North Africa. Their social involvement in unearthing young talent has also turned the sedate community of Bethlehem into a prime sport in Free State to add another feather to their cap. The fact that they are using the military quarters as training ground confirms their strict regimen of maintaining precision and order in their pursuit of the league title.
Interestingly, rumour mongers and self appointed football auctioneers are associating head coach Steve Khompela with a move to our ship; perhaps a much needed ingredient that will certainly turn the calabash clash into a feisty encounter. I may also caution against expecting Steve to be subdued or pacified by the speculation except to anticipate a touchline battle that will certainly keep us on the edges of our seats.
We are also doing a lot of preparation to counter their every move following a weeklong break; courtesy of the Telkom Knockout finals in Durban. Our last victorious encounter in Tshwane has certainly invigorated a combative spirit needed to survive the grueling league marathon.
With two games left to complete the first and dramatic round of the 2011/12 season, no team is willing to generously donate points at this juncture. All are poised for a festive season celebration of handing their loyal supporters good reason to smile before 2011 is archived in annuls of history.
Our playing squad looked sharp and focused at training, whilst our casualty department only had Itumeleng Khune to concern. Sthembiso Ngcobo, Lehloonolo Majoro, Kaizer Jn. and Bernard Parker are on song, whilst Thomas Sweswe’s winning header against Mamelodi Sundowns has ignited an appetite for adventure in the striking zone. There may be some juggling needed for the right back position with Jimmy Tau sitting out due to suspension.
Tlou Molekwane is certainly unavailable. Mandla Masango has completed his national sojourn with the U/23 and will add to a basket-full of options for our technical team.
In all, I am confident that our lads will prevail to overcome our visitors considering our collective commitment to lift the illusive ABSA Premiership trophy.
We may also need to use this game to psyche ourselves for a midweek coastal clash against Amazulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Tuesday encounter is going to be tough because of the minimal time we have to recover and travel in forty eight hours before kickoff. Engaging Free State Stars on Saturday evening leaves us with Sunday and Monday to prepare thoroughly; perhaps another factor that weighs on our encounter on Tuesday.
Be that as it may, we cannot pre-empt an excuse except to soldier on like seasoned campaigners whose mission is to give our loyal supporters a goody bag laden with Christmas league points.
TRIBUTE TO JACKSON MOKOENA
This week we laid to rest Jackson Mokoena our hard working Kit Manager who passed on after long illness. He was an important asset in the Technical Department with a contribution that spanned more than twenty years of dedication and sacrifice.
I am thankful for his role and pray that his family finds strength during these trying times.
Kaizer Motaung (Mr.)