Final not written in the stars

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Free State Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns are poised to battle it out in the final of the inaugural Nedbank Cup next month.

But the two sides will first have to negotiate their way past Mpumalanga Black Aces and AmaZulu this weekend.

Ea Lla Koto take on the enterprising Aces, or AmaZion, in the first semifinal scheduled for Super Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday.

"It's gonna be war, we are not going to underestimate Aces," said Rantsi Mokoena, Stars' brand manager yesterday.

"Bra Kenny [Ndlazi, Aces' coach] has assembled a great squad that is highly competitive. The have many guys with professional soccer experience.

"Our technical staff have been working hard watching their videos, including when they brushed aside Thanda Royal Zulu."

Thabo Moroape, Aces' publicist, said they had a lot of respect for Stars but warned that the Free State side have reached the end of the road in Ke Yona.

With Jimmy Khauleza having regained his magic scoring form, goalie Michel Babale will have to be at his best to avoid falling to his former team.

Babale used to play for Ea Lla Koto.

Ndlazi boasts an array of former professionals like Kabamba Musasa, Jacob Machaka, Felix Musasa and Lucas Tlhomelang.

Stars coach Kinnah Phiri will also look to the likes of Collins Chabalala and Diyo Sibisi to help Khauleza bang them goals in.

Sundowns and AmaZulu clash at Olen Park in Potchefstroom on Sunday, also starting at 3pm.

Sundowns assistant coach Harris Choeu has made it clear that Ke Yona is the last opportunity for them to end the season with silverware to show off.

This was after The Brazilians - who have signed a deal with Nike to replace Diadora - fell off the race in their quest to make history by winning a third consecutive Premiership title.

Philani Mabaso, Usuthu's spokesman, said they have recovered from the 2-0 defeat by Ea Lla Koto and were determined to embarrass Downs.

This will be a battle of the strikers with the focus expected to be on Dumisane Ngwenya of AmaZulu and veteran Peter Ndlovu of Sundowns.