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Football | Absa Premiership

Luc Eymael © Gallo Images

Stars look to bounce back from midweek defeat

Free State Stars will look to bounce back from a midweek defeat in the Absa Premiership when they host SuperSport United at Goble Park on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 8.15pm CAT.

Stars have gone three matches without a win in the league after they were beaten 3-1 at Mamelodi Sundowns on November 7. It was a sixth defeat this season for the Free State side.

Ea Lla Koto have claimed 11 points from six home matches this season, with their last result as hosts a 1-1 draw with Golden Arrows on October 24.

SuperSport racked up a third successive draw in the league when they were held 1-1 at home by Golden Arrows on October 28. The Tshwane side hat not drawn any of their opening six matches in the 2018/19 season.

Matsatsantsa have claimed just five points from as many away matches this season. Their last result on the road was a goalless draw at Baroka FC in early October.

In head-to-head stats, Stars and SuperSport have met in 44 league matches since 1991. Matsatsantsa have claimed 15 wins compared to 10 for Ea Lla Koto, while 19 matches have been drawn. The Free State side has won seven of their 22 home matches against their Tshwane counterparts, suffering five defeats in the process.

In the teams’ league meetings last season, Stars claimed a 1-0 home win in December 2017, while the return game in Tshwane in April 2018 saw SuperSport emerge 3-2 winners. That five-goal thriller broke a low-scoring sequence of matches (just two were scored the five prior meetings) between Matsatsantsa and Ea Lla Koto.

What the teams are saying

Free State Stars coach Luc Eymael

“We started very well. You try to prepare a plan for the full week and it was working well, but after my goalkeeper threw this ball and we made a bad control, we concede,” Eymael complained after the loss to Mamelodi Sundowns.

“We knew very well that Sundowns wanted to score in the first 15 minutes like they are doing usually. Then they wanted to let us come [in attack] and they finish us, and that’s what happened.”

The Belgian added, “It’s very disappointing.”

SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo

“We had a couple of breaks here and there but the first half belonged to Chiefs, they were the better team,” said Tembo after his side’s loss to Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout.

“In the second half when we made changes we played much better. We brought in Thuso [Phala] and Evans [Rusike], we knew Evans won’t last 90 minutes [because of recurring injury] and we thought let’s give him 45 minutes because of game management. After that we were threatening, but not taking chances and shooting at goal. We never really did that.”

Free State Stars key players

Harris Tchilimbou – One of the few Stars players who looked dangerous against Mamelodi Suundowns, Tchilimbou netted a well-taken goal in the midweek clash and will hope to carry his form into this game against another Tshwane team.

Makhehleni Makhaula – Winning the midfield battle may well be decisive in this clash, and Stars will need Makhaula on top of his game to get the better of players such as Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Phumlani Ntshangase and Teboho Mokoena.

SuperSport United key players

Aubrey Modiba – The versatile midfielder has been one of SuperSport’s most consistent performers through the 2018/19 season. He will hope to dominate his flank against a Stars side which generally makes good use of width and pace in attack.

Clayton Daniels – Should Stars deploy the likes of Eleazar Rodgers up front, Clayton Daniels and Bongani Khumalo could well be faced with an aerial barrage. Their ability to keep Ea Lla Koto’s forwards under wraps will be key to this encounter.


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