stoichkov on the attack

PRESSURE: Coach Hristo Stoichkov. Pic. Lefty Shivambu. © Gallo Images.
ATTERIDGEVILLE, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 08, Sundowns coach Hristo Stoitchkov  during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Black Aces from Super Stadium on August 8, 2009 in Atteridgeville, South Africa.

Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images
PRESSURE: Coach Hristo Stoichkov. Pic. Lefty Shivambu. © Gallo Images. ATTERIDGEVILLE, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 08, Sundowns coach Hristo Stoitchkov during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Black Aces from Super Stadium on August 8, 2009 in Atteridgeville, South Africa. Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

DAYS after a story about Benedict Vilakazi's unhapiness appeared, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Hristo Stoichkov went on the attack when he was asked to clear up the matter yesterday.

DAYS after a story about Benedict Vilakazi's unhapiness appeared, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Hristo Stoichkov went on the attack when he was asked to clear up the matter yesterday.

Stoichkov told the media he would not entertain such questions, and took exception when asked if he had indeed called the player "short".

"Did you hear me calling him short? Where you there? So Vilakazi has not been playing, Vuyo (Mere) hasn't, (Matthew) Booth hasn't, Brian (Baloyi) hasn't. Why don't you ask about them? I am the coach, I decide who gets to play," he roared.

Vilakazi was quoted in a local football publication as suggesting that the coach was clueless about the real feelings of fringe players and that his teammates would not "die" for Stoichkov.

Days before the Brazilians face off with Kaizer Chiefs at Super Stadium, the Bulgarian was probably mindful that with just three wins in nine matches, and with Downs being ninth on the Absa Premiership table, they were in danger of falling too far behind with their rivals quick out of the starting gate.

"I have a lot of confidence in my players - I am very happy with them. They understand how I want them to play, the movement, the mentality. We take it game for game and we work at it every day at training," he said.

He also agrees that his team would do their credibility a lot of good if they were to follow the 5-1 hammering of Maritzburg United with a victory over Chiefs.

But for goalkeeper Brian Baloyi, who spent many of his formative days at Naturena, the mission is bigger than just Chiefs: "We need to consistently be in the top five. It is much bigger than beating Chiefs. If we want to have a shot at the title, we need to start keeping up with Orlando Pirates, Bloemfontein Celtic and SuperSport United, who all started very well."

The Downs mentor also had time to express solidarity with the endangered Bafana Bafana coach, Joel Santana, saying the team needed the people's support.

"It means nothing that Bafana are losing friendly matches. What counts is what happens in the World Cup. It's tough now because they are losing every day, but it would be different if the country believed in them," Stoichkov said.

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