BLOEMFONTEIN, February 24 – Free State Stars will hope to continue with their fine run in the Absa Premiership when they host AmaZulu on Saturday night at Goble Park Stadium (start at 8.15pm)
Ea Lla Koto are motivated after frustrating log-leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns in their midweek game away in Tshwane.
The 1-1 draw has lifted the morale of the Bethlehem-based side as they aim at cementing their spot in the top five.
Sitting fourth with 33 points from 21 matches means they have erased their relegation concerns for this term.
Shifting focus to the visitors, the 2016-17 National First Division campaigners are also out to bag a victory and get back to winning ways in the league.
Their aim is to avoid a return to the NFD and will chase a double after collecting a 1-0 win in the first round at home.
Looking at their previous two matches, they beat Mthatha Bucks on penalties in the Ke Yona competition and lost 2-0 to Maritzburg United in their KwaZulu-Natal derby.
Usuthu occupies the ninth spot on the log with 26 points and coach Cavin Johnson will have to rally behind his men to erase their loss in the KZN derby.
The Durban-based side will bank on their freshness after resting for the whole week and capitalise on the fact that Stars travelled to the Capital City on Wednesday.
Free State Stars assistant coach David Vilakazi says he expects a tough game.
“This will be difficult because we had another difficult one on Wednesday, but we are motivated,” said Vilakazi.
“Confidence is high in camp after the boys fought hard against Sundowns – credit goes to them for grabbing a point.
AmaZulu skipper Thapelo Nyongo said they were prepared for the Bethlehem encounter. “We are ready to go. It will be tough visiting them in their own backyard, but we will fight,” said Nyongo.
“We lost our game against Maritzburg in the derby and we have a chance to bounce back away. We have to put in an effort on Saturday.”
Key players for Stars are Ali Sangare and Harris Tchilimbou.
Goalkeeper Sangare was instrumental in their game against Sundowns, making brilliant saves to deny Jeremy Brockie twice and will hope to continue this form at home.
Tchilimbou also had a brilliant game against Sundowns and came close to scoring. Coach Eymael will push him to deliver once again and see Usuthu off.
For AmaZulu Thapelo Nyongo could spark a victory. The skipper’s ability to lead the Usuthu troops should come to the fore on Saturday.
The fact they beat Stars at home means their character will be tested in Bethlehem as the hosts will want revenge.
Another key player is Siyethemba Mnguni and the dreadlocked man has had a good season so far for the Durbanites.
In his debut PSL season, he has done well and will be key for Johnson’s side in their quest to claim the three points.
– African News Agency (ANA)