Cup kings v kings of rhythm

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For years Chiefs have had the tag of “cup specialists”, and statistics and history do back them as the team who make the grade in cup competitions.

With Sundowns, they are the form team in the Absa Premiership on a 10-match winning streak.

In their battle on Wednesday, it remains to be seen if it will be the usual suspects or the team with rhythm who emerge victorious in an eagerly anticipated final.

So far this season, both Chiefs and Sundowns have experienced mixed emotions with contrasting performances.

Chiefs have not impressed much in the league but they did reach the final of the MTN8, where they lost to Ajax Cape Town, while Sundowns were unfortunate to get knocked out in the first round of the same competition.

While Chiefs have been inconsistent, Sundowns have found their form and the stage is set for an interesting duel.

That both sides boast great quality in playing personnel has had the interest at a high level. The playing field is level and there are sure to be a number of personal tussles all over the park.

Robust Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande against an equally tough Hlompho Kekana; the skilful George Lebese up against agile Ramahlwe Mphahlele; and Eric Matoho against Anthony Laffor or Leo Castro make for a potentially explosive game.

There is no clear favourite, but Sundowns may have the edge if form is anything to go by, although Downs’ midfielder Kekana is refusing to be flattered.

“We have been winning matches, which is good for our confidence and our team spirit,” Kekana said.

“We are on the right track but football is a funny game. You don’t look at the (PSL) log when you play a cup final. The team that wants it more will win the match.”

The last time Kekana and his teammates went to Moses Mabhida, they left with heads bowed after Bloemfontein Celtic beat them in the final of the same competition and he’s hoping for better luck this time.

“We are excited. We are really looking to bring the silverware home. I don’t think it’s about any person or individual – it’s about the team. It’s about the pride of the team. If we go out there and apply ourselves as we have been, I think we will win,” said Kekana.

Chiefs’ coach Steve Komphela and his Downs’ counterpart Pitso Mosimane are friends, but after the pleasantries it will be down to business. As former players, much will rest on their shoulders.

Komphela has been at the helm of Chiefs since the beginning of the season. He came second in the MTN8 and now the former Bafana captain has to lead Chiefs to triumph lest he becomes persona non grata.

Mosimane has tasted the good, the bad and the ugly at Downs. He has had fans shout his name in admiration and agitation.

In head-to-head clashes in this competition, Chiefs and Sundowns have met three times, with Ama-khosi winning all three on penalties.

– THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT


Original source: Cup kings v kings of rhythm

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