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Football | Absa Premiership

Clive Barker © Backpagepix

Wits begin new life under Barker



Black Leopards will, on Tuesday evening, welcome Bidvest Wits to the Peter Mokaba Stadium as both teams get their Absa Premiership 2012/13 season back underway after a two month break, kick-off at 7:30pm.

Leopards and Wits are both in a similar position on the log. They have been occupying the mid-table area for a while and are currently separated by two points.

Another vital thing that these sides have in common is that they have had major changes in the dugout.

In the two month hiatus that domestic football action has been in, veteran South African coach Clive Barker has taken over at the Clever Boys while Ian Palmer became the latest coaching casualty in the PSL, when in December he was effectively dismissed by Leopards after alleged clashes with the club’s management.

Palmer has since been replaced by his then assistant Abel Makhubela, who is the third man at the helm of Lidoda Duvha this season after replacing Sunday Chidzambwa for just two months.

The Limpopo side has managed just one win at home so far this season, picking up seven points from a possible 24. Lidoda Duvha are placed 12th on the Absa Premiership log with 17 points from 16 matches.

Black Leopards skipper Mongezi Bobe says that his team is more than ready to collect the three points from the visitors especially after having a tough physical training mid-season break camp in Tanzania.

“Preparations for this match have been good. We have had enough time to prepare for this clash and think about the opponents,” explained Bobe.

“We went to Tanzania during the break to prepare for not only this first match of the year but the rest of the season.

“We will be pleased if we can repeat the same performance we had in the first round of the season, but we are an ambitious team and we are hoping to at least break into the top four.

“We would be happy if we avoided relegation, but we certainly want to finish in the top eight bracket this season because we want to play in the MTN 8 next season, something the club has not done in a while.”

About facing a side that has a legendary figure on the bench, Bobe has sent out a warning to his teammates about underestimating the Clever Boys.

“Whenever a new coach arrives, he ultimately lifts the spirit of the team because players are now motivated to do well. In this case most importantly, having a coach like Clive on the bench is motivation enough,” added Bobe.

The Clever Boys are placed ninth on the log with 19 points from 16 matches.

Wits left back James Mayinga, who represented Leopards in his rookie years in professional football says that getting a full house of points in Polokwane will only be sufficient in breaking away from the teams underneath them and avoiding a relegation dog fight at the business end of the campaign.

“We want to win on Tuesday and that’s it,” said Mayinga.

“We have a new coach on the bench and it will be a lovely way of welcoming him into the team by getting these three valuable points.

“We have been doing well in friendly matches but the ‘real thing’ is now upon us and we have to bring that form into league matches because our preparations have been thorough.

“I know Leopards and they will want come out fighting because they don’t want to lose at home but we also have our own agenda.”

When the teams met earlier this season at the Bidvest Stadium they played to an entertaining 2-2 draw.

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