Sickness takes its toll ahead of crucial cup clash against Cosmos

Sello Rabothata

Sello Rabothata

The Platinum Stars camp this week resembled a hospital ward with players off sick, while their SAA Supa 8 opponents Jomo Cosmos reported a clean bill of health and readiness for Sunday's encounter at Olympia Park in Rustenburg.

Kickoff is at 3pm.

Speaking to Sowetan after training on Tuesday afternoon, the Tycoons' coach, Owen "Rubberdoll" Da Gama, sounded a bit worried, but he promised that his side would soldier on and dig deep while hoping some of the players would recover in time for the game.

About six senior players were ruled out of training by the team's doctor and sent home for various ailments, including flu.

Da Gama mentioned Koketso Mmotong, Michael Khaile, Stanley Kgatla, Irvin Zwane, Edward Williams and Sailor Tshabalala among the casualties.

"These are testing times for us but we hope to go out there and do better than we did against Celtic last Saturday," Da Gama said.

"Mind you, Celtic deserved their victory as they played very well but our pre-season plans were hampered somewhat in that we could not even do some of the things we wanted to do, like play in a four-team tournament which was cancelled due to a strike in Nigeria."

The amiable coach said he was aware they are up against formidable opposition with a great coach in Jomo Sono but said they would fight to the end.

They still have players who can do the job in Hareaipha "Simba" Marumo, Henrico Botes, Solomon Mathe and new signing Phumudzo Manenzhe.

On the other hand, Collen "Blackstone" Tlemo, Ezenkosi's assistant coach, said the North West side beat them three times last season (twice in the league and once in a cup game) and for that they respected them.

"But past results count for nothing. This is a whole new ball game and we are going to compete," Tlemo said.

"The fact they are playing at home obviously gives them an advantage."

He added: "We are not going to field any new faces as they would not be ready for the game."

That means players like Reneilwe "Yeye" Letsholonyane, Bhamuza Sono and Dikgang "Terminator" Mabalane will have to step up and steer the ship while returning goalkeeper Avril "Chawe" Phali and defenders Thapelo "Super Glue" Tshilo and Valery Nahayo take care of Stars' attacks on the day.