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Football | South Africa

Danny Venter © Gallo Images

Free State Stars and Dikwena lock horns

Free State Stars are out to down Platinum Stars in the 2017/18 Bokone Bophirima Maize Cup when they meet in the first semifinal of the one day tournament on Saturday morning at James Motlatsi Stadium.

Kick-off is at 10:00am.

Coach Sammy Troughton will want a bright start in his stint as Ea Lla Koto coach and to beat Dikwena in the semifinal is his mission.

Although Free State are coming fresh from a successful campaign in the Dihlabeng Spectacular Tournament in Clarens, Troughton knows the Maize Cup is a different stage.

He will meet fellow Premier Soccer League sides, but lifting the Spectacular tournament has boosted their morale ahead of this showpiece in Orkney.

Should they beat Peter Butler's side, Stars will march on and meet either Kaizer Chiefs or Township Rollers of Botswana in the final.

In the Dihlabeng tournament, Stars defeated Lesotho Premier Division sides such as Ditshilo FC and Sandawana FC where they scored more than five goals in both matches.

Troughton will want his tried and tested players including Mohammed Anas and Danny Venter to be in fine form.

“I'm very happy to have an opportunity to come and play here in the Maize Cup, this is an opportunity to see how far we are with our preparations," said David Vilakazi.

"We will measure our level of fitness. The new players we will bring in and the new coach will see what he can introduce.

“We hope to also impress in the tournament because we also want to be invited to come and play once again in the future.

“On the draw, we are confident we can cause an upset against Platinum Stars. This is a derby against Platinum Stars and you will remember we played a draw against them in the second round of the league.

"So we still need to fight and ensure we get a win. It is a derby because we also play our home games here and they are from this province.

"We need to find out who is the boss of this province come match day, we are looking forward to play this one.”

Looking at the hosts, Stars are also out to unleash a new technical team and that means they will be in a preparatory phase when it comes to tactics and formations.

However, Peter Butler and his assistant coach in Milton Dlamini, they will want to redeem the club's morale after their disastrous CAF Confederation Cup campaign.

Stars exited the continental tournament with no victory next to their name - they lost three and drew as many games.

On the other hand, their mission is to retain the trophy after losing it to Orlando Pirates last year via a penalty shootout in the Maize Cup.

Just last week, they drew 2-2 against Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland and they will now want to show their freshness when it comes to this Saturday's encounter.

Skipper Vuyo Mere will be tasked with leading the team and to provide inspiration to break down Free State Stars and ensure they reach the final of the tournament.

“I am settling down very well, the club has great infrastructure and I am not new to South African football – I have been involved for 20 years now especially in youth structures,” said assistant Dlamini.

“People know me and it was easy to receive a warm welcome and adjust here.

“This is an ambitious club and I am confident I will add value at the club to ensure to continues to grow and produce good players.

"Look, the mission and the exercise of the Maize Cup is to ensure all players get a chance.

"We want to do well in the tournament and to show Stars our quality.

“You know our coach is still waiting for his papers, so we had to use the Mbabane Swallows match to let him know the players, from the MultiChoice Diski side and so on.”


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