With crunch cup games looming

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

The Premier Soccer League will keep a close eye on the referees who will officiate in Africa's richest knockout competition, the Telkom Knockout Cup, which kicks off this weekend.

"There is a lot of money involved and it is therefore important to keep a close watch over the match officials," said PSL chief executive Trevor Phillips, who is still recovering from a mild heart attack.

"I have even spoken to Safa to make sure that they give us their best referees for this tournament.

"I could not be specific with names, though, as that would have amounted to interfering with Safa, but I have confidence in Ari Soldatos who appoints the referees."

The British Bulldog said he will be back in the office next Monday.

Kicking off the competition that carries a winners' cheque of R4,25 million is the fixture that led to the ugliest scenes of crowd behaviour so far this season - Bidvest Wits v Kaizer Chiefs - at Johannesburg Stadium.

Wits fired the first salvo yesterday, saying they were not intimidated by Amakhosi's recent crowning as the SAA Supa 8 champions.

"We will see if this time they will be able to close Pepe [Carlos de Jesus] down," said Wits team manager George Mogotsi yesterday.

"They must know, though, that he is not the only dangerous player we have. Bloemfontein Celtic made that mistake last Friday and were duly punished [2-1]."

On Sunday Mamelodi Sundowns take on AmaZulu at Super Stadium, Jomo Cosmos play Santos in Katlehong and Silver Stars face Celtic in Bloemfontein.