Stars have score to settle with Ajax

TOUGH BATTLE: Free State Stars' Duncan Lechesa.  30/08/2008.Pic. Duif du Toit. © Gallo Images
TOUGH BATTLE: Free State Stars' Duncan Lechesa. 30/08/2008.Pic. Duif du Toit. © Gallo Images

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Free State Stars captain Duncan "King" Lechesa has described Sunday's Telkom Knockout semifinal as a perfect platform to settle the score with Ajax Cape Town.

The two sides meet in a game expected to attract a capacity crowd at East London Stadium, which has been upgraded to serve as a 2010 World Cup training ground.

The game will start at 3pm.

The in-form Cape Town outfit beat Ea Lla Koto 2-1 in their Absa Premiership match at Athlone Stadium in the Mother City on November 15.

"Ajax have been playing well, but there is no way they will beat us again," declared Lechesa on their arrival in East London yesterday.

Ajax's striker Sifiso Vilakazi said they wanted to maintain their winning rhythm, but he was quick to point out that they expected a tough one from Stars.

"We are looking forward to doing well, the plan is to go all the way to the final and win," said Vilakazi, formerly with Stars.

Ajax coach Craig Rosslee and Stars' Themba Sithole avoided a war of words at the media briefing in East London yesterday.

Rosslee and Sithole, creating a lull before a storm, hugged each other just before the conference, but one could tell they were wary about their meeting on Sunday.

The Urban Warriors' mentor refused to regard the tie as revenge after Stars bundled them out of the tournament in the first round last term.

"If you can ask me whether we can win this match, my answer will be yes," Sithole said.

Ajax will miss Nazeer Allie and Clifford "Robot" Ngobeni due to injuries, while Mfundo Shumana is a doubtful starter. But they still have lethal forward Mabhuti Khenyeza and Nhlanhla Shabalala could cause the downfall of his former employers.

Lechesa's experience should give Stars sturdiness in the midfield and Jimmy Khauleza shoulders some of the responsibilities of scoring for them.