stars shut door

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Free State Stars are expected to unleash their rock-solid defender, James Matola on Thulasizwe Mbuyane of Orlando Pirates in Namahadi tomorrow.

Mbuyane is a former Stars player who has become part of Pirates' new winning combination assembled by coach Rudolf Krol.

He repaid Krol's faith in him by scoring an incredible goal in their 1-0 win over Moroka Swallows, their first Absa Premiership victory in five games.

This came after some of the impatient Pirates faithful called for his substitution in their win against Thanda Royal Zulu, but Krol refused to bow to their demands.

"We cannot afford to ignore Thulasizwe, especially after the awesome goal he scored against Swallows," said Duncan "The King" Lechesa, Stars' skipper.

"We will definitely take care of him, but that does not mean we will turn a blind eye on the other 10 players fielded by Pirates on the day."

Lehlohonolo Seema, Pirates' captain, said they were out to get maximum points to maintain their winning rhythm during this 3.30pm clash.

Bucs are chasing their third consecutive victory after brushing aside Royal and Swallows, with Krol on track to take them back to their glory days. Though there is a great deal of improvement in the team lately, Krol must still be concerned about their failure to bury the opposition.

Soccer-mad fans making the trip to Sekotimpate, as Charles Mopedi Stadium is also known, should expect fireworks with Stars still licking their wounds after a 2-0 defeat by Santos.

While Stars' new coach Themba Sithole has been forced to chop and change the team due to suspensions and injuries, Krol does not have similar challenges.

The Dutch legend used the same starting lineup in their last three games against Santos, Thanda Royal Zulu and Swallows.

His regulars include Rooi Mahamutsa, Dikgang Mabalane, Benson Mhlongo, Lucas Thwala and Lebogang Mothibantwa.

Thembile Kanono looks set to start in the absence of the suspended Teko Modise.

Up front for Stars, Diyo Sibisi, Paulos Masehe and Sthembiso Ngcobo are capable of embarrassing Bucs' goalie Moeneeb Josephs if left unattended.

Stars' reserve goalie Walter Khumalo will start again with Kennedy Mweene still injured.