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Football | Absa Premiership

Robert Ngambi with Oupa Manyisa © Backpagepix

Pirates, Stars contend for top spot

The Absa Premiership encounter between Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night could determine who sits at the top of the pile come the end of round 19, kick-off at 19h30.

A win for either side could see them at the summit of the league table provided current league leaders Kaizer Chiefs lose their match against Black Leopards at the same time.

The defending league champions, though, will come into this game against Stars confident of reclaiming their top spot, which they surrendered this past weekend as they took part in the CAF Champions League.

In that game against Djabal FC the Buccaneers produced a clinical performance running out comfortable 5-0 winners with Takesure Chinyama grabbing four of the goals.

Pirates also got the resumption of their league campaign underway in fine fashion as they registered a 1-0 win over SuperSport United in their last PSL match, which consequently saw them go top of the table after Chiefs drew 0-0 with Mamelodi Sundowns.

Looking ahead to the Platinum Stars game, Andile Jali sasy the Buccaneers understand the importance of keeping the momentum going in the second half of the season.

“The second half of the season is the most crucial part because there is little space for error,” explains Jali.

“We face Platinum Stars at a time where points are desperately needed by all teams in the PSL. For the past two seasons, we have been strong in the second round and so far we have started well this season.”

“We want to win the league and wining home matches becomes vital from now on – we cannot let this one slip. We will prepare adequately for them, and hopefully we get full points.”

However, despite the Buccaneers impressive start to 2013 and their recent showing in the CAF Champions League on the weekend, Platinum Stars are not coming into this PSL counter as underdogs.

Instead, the Rustenburg-based outfit come into this clash in high spirits and full of confidence after their own sterling performance on the weekend which saw them outplay Ajax Cape Town in every aspect of the game to win 3-0.

The Q2 winners are now tie on points with Pirates on 37 points, in second and third respectively, and are eyeing a place at the top of the table. As previously mentioned, a win for them on Wednesday night, coupled with a loss for league leaders Chiefs, could see Stars go top of the table.

Stars coach Cavin Johnson, though, is not focused on that as is hoping to see his side produce the same form which saw them overcome the Urban Warriors this past weekend.

“We got the three points and take nothing away from Ajax. They are a very good team and I think the next team they play will get beaten,” explain Johnson. “I think we defended well at moments and kept Ajax out.

“But I think we can improve in controlling the ball, especially late in the game when Ajax came hard at us. I think a little more composure on the ball and better tactical and technical awareness will help us improve.”

Ahead of the Pirates game Johnson says he is looking forward to the challenge.

“I am not worried about Pirates. They are a big team and the players lift themselves in these games,” concluded the coach.


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