Stars deserve title - Steve Komphela
FREE State Stars coach Steve Komphela described tomorrow's Nedbank Cup semifinal clash against Mamelodi Sundowns as a personal affair for his silverware-hungry players.
Komphela, who was still a player the last time Stars won a cup in 1994, said he was over individual achievements as a coach because they were easily forgotten.
However, he said players like skipper Kennedy Mweene and veteran Paulus Masehe deserved to end the season with a trophy.
"It wouldn't be an injustice if we did not win a trophy this season," he said yesterday, "but it would be a little bit disappointing if the players don't get anything, having done so well this season. It would be nice to end with something, just to compliment the amount of work they have put in."
Stars have been on a high this season, matching the usual title contenders and could have reached the halfway mark in the Absa Premiership at the top of the table had it not been for refereeing decisions going against them.
Instead, Komphela's unfancied side is fourth on the log, seven points behind leaders Orlando Pirates with two games remaining.
The Nedbank Cup - a competition the Bethlehem-based side has been impressive in - could be their most likely piece of silverware this season, with Stars taking on second-placed Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
Komphela's men have taken down giants on the way to the last four of the tournament, beating defending champions Pirates in the last 16 and their bitter rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the quarterfinals.
Both were away games, and the coach feels having to travel is no longer a stumbling block for his team. "Perhaps we focus better when we play away, seeing that we threatened the big sharks like Pirates and Chiefs. We have done enough for everyone to notice us, and so will Sundowns."
Komphela's counterpart Johan Neeskens was moaning about the congested fixture schedule this season. Neeskens is unhappy that Sundowns will be playing their third game in six days tomorrow following matches against Santos and Chiefs in the league.
"I don't know if it has to do with commercialising football or not, but it is taking its toll on us," he said.
The coach is expected to start with captain Teko Modise and Katlego Mphela, who were benched for the 2-0 league defeat to Chiefs on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Neeskens has expressed his desire to reach the finals of the tournament. "We will give all we have against Free State Stars and hopefully put ourselves in a much better position to advance to the finals of the competition," Neeskens told the side's website.