Chiefs laidback ahead of final
Chiefs laidback ahead of final

Posted in News on Jul 12, 2002.

Kaizer Chiefs players looked relaxed and laidback after their final training session at Absa Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon in preparation for their Vodacom Challenge final clash against FC Lupopo.

A handful of supporters and the maintenance personnel, who made final touches around the stadium ahead of the Sunday final, queued for autographs before the players were bussed to their hotel.

Former Chiefs veteran Donald "Ace" Khuse worked on the finer aspects of goalkeeping with the three stoppers, Brian Baloyi, Tladi Mathibe and Rowen Fernandez, while Doctor Khumalo worked with the other group.

Coach Muhsin Ertugral's group was sizeable and will probably account for the starting eleven in the final. Ferandez was in goals, Peter Matshitse, Gary Goldstone, Cyril Nzama and David Kannemeyer at the back and in midfield it was Arthur Zwane, Jabu Pule, Zimbabwean national under-23 Tenashe Mangomasha, Stanton Fredericks and the strike force comprised Justice Sithole and Shaun Permall.

The players were, meantime, entertained by an enthusiastic platoon of security personnel with the sound of shosholoza as they did a final drill.

Khuse and Khumalo later combined their groups while Ertugral continued to work separately. And at the end of the session it appeared that one name could force it's way into the starting 11. Regular keeper Brian Baloyi was particularly impressive, especially in dealing with shots fired from the near posts and he could push Fernandez to the bench.

Pule was at his usual best and enjoyed playing around with the ball, running circles around his teammates. Some, however, weren' too impressed. "Shuffle, play it though, play the ball through Shuffle, or you will end up getting injured and we have a big game tomorrow," shouted Nzama.

That was an indication of Pule's importance to the team - without him they always battle and Nzama was not prepared to see the midfield wizard jeopardise his chance of featuring in the final.

Midfielder Gerald Sibeko was, however, not so lucky as he twisted his right ankle at training on Friday and will miss the final. But the strikers from Ghana might not get a run.

"They have just arrived and we haven't had enough time to look at them," Ertugral said. "This is a high profile match and we cannot afford to take any risks. We will have to organise a friendly match with one of the PSL sides to see how they cope."

Ertugral steered clear of discussing his plans for Sunday but appeared happy with his preparations. "We are ready and we might have to take a different approach from our previous game," said Ertugral. "I am very happy with the level of concentration as that will be key on Sunday."

The different approach Ertugral was talking about could be a change in the strike force with Permall combining with Sithole, with Pule playing in midfield.

The gates will open at 10:00am and great entertainment has been lined up to encourage the supporters to arrive early at the stadium and, according to tournament director Emy Casaletti-Page, only 1 900 tickets were left at the close of day on Saturday.

Orlando Pirates will kick-off their third place play-off against Asante Kotoko at 12:30 with the main game between Chiefs and Lupopo coming up at 15:00. Competition rules stay the same: in case the game is deadlocked after 90 minutes, the match will be settled with penalties. There will be no extra time.

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