Downs told not to underestimate foes

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Mamelodi Sundowns team manager Harris Choeu feels his players will do well to remember how Free State Stars got this far in the Telkom Knockout.

Sundowns face the Free State team in the second semifinal of the tournament at Absa Stadium on Sunday.

And Choeu's message to Benson Mhlongo and company is clear - underestimate the Free Staters at your peril.

Kinnah Phiri's side arrived at this point in the competition by first trouncing Ajax Cape Town at home, and then sweeping aside Jomo Cosmos to set up a match that should be fascinating, especially when one looks at the contrasting styles of play the two teams employ.

Known for their patient and elegant build-up from the back, Downs will face a hard-running and organised side that has an inspirational captain in Duncan Lechesa.

"This game will, without a doubt, be difficult for us. Of course we want to go through, but we are aware that they have speedy players who have an extremely high work rate. I mean, beating Cosmos twice - as they have done recently - is not child's play," Choeu said.

"Lechesa is an influential player, he leads by example and does things for his teammates. But honestly, he is not the only one we will be worried about."

Diyo Sibisi, the Premiership's leading goalscorer and Fanyana Dhladhla are only two players who have helped Ea lla Koto set the pace and maintain a good goalscoring average so far.

Stars' Rantsi Mokoena has all the respect for the league champions, but feels the team that adapts to the conditions first, will have a spot in the final against Kaizer Chiefs or Bloemfontein Celtic.

"I think we are the underdogs, something that puts pressure on them. They are a great team, but I'm also confident of our chances."

That said, despite their unpredictability of late, the Brazilians are not likely to roll over and allow themselves to be kicked out without a fight.