QALINGE: I’M UP FOR CHALLENGE!

ORLANDO Pirates dribbling wizard Thabo “Section 10” Qalinge is hoping to get more game-time this season, having recovered from a knee injury.

Qalinge is optimistic that he will make a return to Pirates’ starting lineup when they play Chippa United in an Absa Premiership match at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tonight (7.30pm). Chippa have not been able to win a match in their last seven outings.

The 25-year-old midfielder says working hard will be the key to reaching the starting XI

 

Said Qalinge: “Competition at the club is tough and I don’t want to use injury as an excuse. Injuries are always there.

“This season I am looking forward to playing more games, improving on the past two seasons, where I was not getting enough game-time because of my injuries. When I get the chance I will give my best.”

The Buccaneers registered their third league win of the season in eight outings on Saturday when they defeated Free State Stars 1-0 at Orlando Stadium. It was Augusto Palacios’ second victory since taking over as caretaker coach.

Going into the Chippa game Palacios said they would need to bury their opponents, capitalising on early chances to kill off the game.

“We are improving with every game we play but can still do better. We have capable players.

“Going forward we must put in more hard work up-front. Our wingers are creating a lot of goal-scoring opportunities but we are struggling a bit to convert those chances,” said Palacios.

Beleaguered Chilli Boys will be hoping to make home ground advantage count for them. They defeated Bucs 2-0 at the same venue at the end of last season.

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TOUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR HIGHLANDS!

HIGHLANDS Park new coach Gordon Igesund is worried that his team might not pick up a sufficient number of points before the December break, which will put them under pressure in the second round.

The Lions of the North suffered their first league defeat under Igesund on Sunday when they lost 1-0 to Golden Arrows at Makhulong Stadium. Highlands are currently in 14th place in the Absa Premiership table with six points from eight games.

Their next five league games won’t be an easy run, as they have clashes with Bidvest Wits, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bloemfontein Celtic, Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town lined up before the break.

Tomorrow they visit log leaders Wits at Bidvest Stadium (7:30pm).

Igesund said: “There’s a worry, looking at our next games. We have Wits, Sundowns and Pirates – it’s tough, but what makes me feel a bit more positive is the performance against Pirates in the Knockout game. It was much better, we can work with that. We need to lift ourselves up, we’ve got a long season ahead of us, I will do what I have to do going forward.”

The former Bafana Bafana and SuperSport United mentor says his players are still naive when it comes to playing in the top flight, the mentality is not quite right yet.

“I’m looking forward to the first round being finished so I can take the team away on a training camp to get them really tuned in for the second half of the season.

“Fitness levels are not up to scratch, there are a lot of things we need to work on. There’s a long way to go, we want to get on a winning streak.

“First we must understand where the limits are for the players. We will keep working on it,” explained Igesund.

Meanwhile, Arrows coach Clinton Larsen says they won’t get carried away by their victory over Highlands when they meet Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow (7:30pm).

He stated: “The next game is against the African champions, the best team on the continent.

“We will stay humble. We will go there to put in the hard work and see where that gets us. I’m sure the boys will give the best performance come Wednesday (tomorrow).”

IT’S PAYBACK TIME, WARNS THOBEJANE!

BAROKA FC coach Kgoloko Thobejane says it will be payback time when they host Supersport United in their Absa Premiership encounter at Peter Mokaba Stadium tomorrow (3:30pm).

Early this year United thumped Baroka 2-0 to knock them out in the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup at Lucas Moripe Stadium.

With the improved form that Bakgaga have displayed in their last five matches including cup games, the outspoken Thobejane said he was convinced his charges would upset Matsatsantsa a Pitori.

In their last three league games, Baroka defeated Cape Town City 2-1, and drew 2-2 with Polokwane City and 0-0 with Kaizer Chiefs.

In the Telkom Knockout they surprised Platinum Stars when they handed them a 3-1 defeat to go through to quarterfinals, where they lost 4-3 to Cape Town City in an entertaining encounter.

Said Thobejane: “I always believe in the boys. In our last cup game they showed everyone that we can compete.

“We have drawn positives from the past and will build on that. These people (SuperSport) they owe us, and now it’s time for revenge.”

Despite their recent form, the Limpopo-based side have been struggling in the league, hanging on in 10th position with nine points after eight games that included two victories and three draws.

Thobejane said they now needed to be consistent. “We’re heading in the right direction, converting the chances we create which is what football is all about. The teams that are regarded as title contenders are the teams we want to beat to climb the ladder,” he said.

Meanwhile SuperSport head coach Stuart Baxter admitted he was wary of Baroka: “On the day they can either be very good or very bad. We will be preparing hard for a tough game.”

Baxter will be minus three suspended stars in defenders Michael Boxall, Onismor Bhasera and captain Dean Furman.

ROYAL SEASON!

NATIONAL FIRST DIVISION (NFD) table toppers Thanda Royal Zulu’s head coach, Roger Sikhakhane is aware of mounting pressure that their recent form might cause as the season goes on.

Sikhakhane’s charges have been outstanding since the beginning of the season, and they’re yet to be defeated in the 10 games they’ve played so far.

NFD clubs will be out of action this week, and will be back next weekend after the Fifa international break.

Thanda, who are now serving their eighth season in the NFD, are currently leading the log with 24 points.

Amabhubesi have opened a five points gap between them and second-placed Stellenbosch FC (formerly Vasco Da Gama)‚ who had a single season in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), that culminated in relegation in the 2010/11 season.

This season, it looks like we might see these two former PSL teams reclaiming the glory by bouncing back to the top flight if they continue playing like this.

Sikhakhane told SunSport they’re prepared for anything that might be thrown at them, good or bad.

He told SunSport: “At the moment things are going our way.

“We’re yet to lose a match, which is something we’re all happy about at the club.

“The boys are scoring goals and they’re not conceding many as we’ve conceded only nine.

“It shows the team is balanced.

“We’re fully aware that things might change along the way, but we are prepared.

“We’ll be able to handle it when we get to that point.”

The former Chippa United mentor has breathed a huge sigh of relief as the break came at the right time when they needed it.

Added the coach: “I have a thin squad of 26 players, including three goalkeepers and I’ve been rotating them in the past games.

“The break will benefit us as they’ll get time to recover and be ready for the remaining five games of the first round.”

Next Sunday, Thanda will visit AmaZulu in a KwaZulu-Natal derby at Princess Magogo Stadium (3.30pm).

“We’re looking forward to the next game and we will give it our best as we usually do with all other games.

“They (Amazulu) have not been doing well, but that does not mean we must take them lightly,” concluded the 40-year-old coach.

NEXT WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday 19 November:

University of Pretoria vs Magesi FC (Tuks Stadium)

Black LeopardsvMbombela United (Thohoyandou Stadium)

FC Cape TownvStellenbosch FC (NNK Rugby Stadium)

Milano United AFC vs (SantosAthlone Stadium)

Mthatha BucksvRoyal Eagles (Mthatha Stadium)

Sunday 20 November:

Cape Town All Stars vs Witbank Spurs (Athlone Stadium)

Jomo Cosmos vs Real Kings FC (Olen Park Stadium)

AmaZulu vs Thanda Royal Zulu FC (Princess Magogo)

 

SHEPHERD HAS A PLAN FOR HIS FLOCK!

MAGESI FC’S new coach, Shepherd Murape, has arranged a series of friendlies during the Fifa international break to help him get to know his players better.

Murape guided the National First Division (NFD) club currently sitting bottom of the table to a 1-1 draw against Mthatha Bucks at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in his first game in charge at the weekend.

The Zimbabwean, who has coached other Limpopo clubs, including Black Leopards and the now defunct Ria Stars, says he regards Limpopo as his second home.

 

Magesi, who won promotion from the ABC Motsepe League at the end of last season, are finding the going tough in the NFD but the experienced Murape believes he will be able to ensure their survival.

“I only had four days to prepare for my first game, which was a tough one for us. I’m quite happy we secured at least a point. Now I have an idea of what needs to be done with this team.

“I’ve realised that our decision-making and level of fitness are not up to scratch.

“But we are a work in progress, this coming break will give me and the players time to get to understand each other better.

“I’ve told the management that we want to play two or three friendlies against Premiership sides, which is bound to help us. After three games the boys will understand my philosophy.”

  • Meanwhile Leopards, who were also playing their first match under new coach Sello Chokoe, lost 2-1 to on-form Witbank Spurs at Puma Rugby Stadium.
  • Log leaders Thanda Royal Zulu, who have not tasted defeat this season, continued their dominance in the NFD when they defeated University of Pretoria 2-1 at Umhlathuze Sports Complex to open a five-point gap between them and Stellenbosch FC, who are in second place.

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Papic to work on his defence!

ROYAL Eagles coach Kosta Papic has vowed that his charges will continue their goal-scoring spree in the National First Division (NFD), where they are currently leading the scoring charts.

But Papic is now looking to tighten his defence.

The Serbian initially joined Eagles as a technical adviser in April, having previously been in charge of NFD rivals Black Leopards.

He took over as the head coach when Eagles parted ways with Bheka Phakathi, Abram Nteo and John Tlale, who were interim coaches.

Since he took over Eagles have been outstanding, scoring 26 goals in their first 10 games this season.

The free-scoring team hammered Milano United 4-2 at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday.

Papic says they have found their killer instinct in front of goal but stressed that they still needed to improve their defence.

He said: “We are converting the chances we create. I’m impressed with it, but that is not enough. If we can score more than six goals in each game, that would be good for us. Defensively I’m not satisfied yet, we can do still better. We also need to keep clean sheets.

“This season we want promotion – and I know it’s not going to be easy. We will have to work hard for it, no team will do us any favours.”

Eagles’ next game will be on 26 November when they visit Mthatha Bucks at Mthatha Stadium after the Fifa international break.

  • In other matches played on Saturday, Leopards, who are now under new coach Sello Chokoe, lost 2-1 to Witbank Spurs at Puma Rugby Stadium, while Magesi, who also have a new coach in Shepherd Murape, drew 1-1 with Bucks.

PRESSURE IS ON THANDA!

UNIVERSITY of Pretoria coach, Shaun Bartlett, has blamed their recent poor run on resting on their laurels in the National First Division (NFD).

When the club got relegated to the NFD, management made a massive change – releasing all senior players and leaving only six youngsters.

The new-look AmaTuks had a promising start, managed to collect seven points in their first three league matches defeating Cape Town All Stars 2-1, Stellenbosch FC with the same scoreline and playing a goalless draw against FC Cape Town.

The coach was satisfied with their performance saying it didn’t take them long time to gel.

But things turned out to be different when they suffered their first 3-0 defeat to AmaZulu, and since then they have not been consistent.

In the nine games they have played so far, AmaTuks have collected 11 points.

Today the Pretoria-based club will visit log leaders Thanda Royal Zulu at Umhlathuze Sports Complex at (3.30pm).

Bartlett said his players need to believe in themselves, if they want to achieve their goal of getting promoted.

He said: “The situation is not good at the moment. The way we started made players to relax too much, which affected the whole thing. In the past home games we should have stamped our authority, but we failed to convert chances.

“Now we should try and get results and restore the winning mentality.”

Thanda are the only team that have scored more than 20 goals in less than 10 games as they have scored 23.

AmaTuks haven’t won in their past three games. The former Bafana Bafana striker is adamant they can surprise Thanda on the day.

“The past is the past. Our focus is on the Thanda game now. Everyone knows we’re facing a good team and they’re scoring a lot of goals, but we’re not worried about them. Pressure is on them since they’re playing at home. We need that killer instinct and put more effort, going forward.”