Free State Stars will chase three points when they host Golden Arrows for the only midweek Absa Premiership fixture. The match is set for Goble Park on Wednesday, 24 October 2018.
Kick-off is at 7.30pm CAT.
Stars picked up just their third league win of the season when they defeated Bloemfontein Celtic 2-0 at home on October 6, with goals from Harris Tchilimbou and Sinethemba Jantjie.
All three of Ea Lla Koto’s victories this term have come at home, as they have also defeated Maritzburg United and Highlands Park in their Bethlehem base.
Arrows broke a seven-game winless streak in the league when they defeated Black Leopards 1-0 at home on October 7. The Durban side has also kept three straight clean sheets.
Abafana Bes’thende have claimed five points from their four away matches this season, with their last result on the road a 0-0 draw at Orlando Pirates early this month.
In head-to-head stats, Stars and Arrows have met in 26 league matches since 2000/01. Ea Lla Koto have claimed 10 wins compared to seven for Abafana Bes’thende, while nine matches have been draw. The Free State side has won seven of their 13 home league matches against the Durban club, suffering two defeats in the process.
Last season Stars took four points off Arrows, claiming a 2-1 home win in the first half of the campaign before playing out a 1-1 draw in the return game. That stalemate was their first draw since the 2012/13 season.
Stars’ line-up from their 2-0 win over Celtic on October 6: Sangare, Maruping (Masina 88′), Tema, Mobbie, Mahamutsa, Phungwayo, Makhaula, Tchilimbou, Jantjie (Jappie 67′), Dlamini, Bhengu (Moseamedi 80′).
Arrows’ line-up from their 1-0 win over Leopards on October 7: Gumede, Mzava, Sibisi, Mngwengwe, Lunga (Matebejane 60′), Zuke, Phiri, Conco, Venter (Sibiya 38′), Lamola, Mutizwa (Cele 72′).
What the teams are saying
Free State Stars coach Luc Eymael
“My players have shown to everyone that when they apply everything altogether we still remain a dangerous team. But when everybody is not playing at 100 percent then it becomes a big problem. It’s not only for us, it’s also for other teams you know,” said Stars’ Belgian tactician.
“Our strength is the collective you know, it’s unity in the team, it’s the discipline and the fighting spirit… because we don’t have our own [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi in the team, huh? For us it is more about the collective.”
Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen
“It’s tricky one for us, playing in the cup, playing on Wednesday [against Free State Stars], and then you play Sunday against SuperSport United. So the congestion of fixtures doesn’t make it easy for us when you are a small team,” Larsen said in regards to his team’s congested fixture list.
“You’ve got to box smartly for the next three games to remain competitive, so for us it’s not easy. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve still got our players fresh for Wednesday, an important game against Free State. Four days later on Sunday against SuperSport we’ve got to refresh the team. With the fixtures so congested, it becomes a bit of a challenge.”
Free State Stars key players
Mpho Maruping – With Paulus Masehe facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a fractured knee, Mpho Maruping will be expected to fulfil the midfield general’s role in the absence of Ea Lla Koto’s regular captain.
Goodman Dlamini – Stars put in a disappointing showing to lose to Bidvest Wits in the Telkom Knockout this past weekend, but Goodman Dlamini was one of their few strong performers and was unlucky not to score with a shot which rattled the frame of the goal.
Golden Arrows key players
Nduduzo Sibiya – The Arrows attacker put in a promising display in their loss to Baroka in the Telkom Knockout this past weekend, but coach Clinton Larsen will want to see better decision-making in the final third from the 23-year-old.
Wayde Jooste – Used quite often as an impact substitute through the season, Wayde Jooste could be a key man for Abafana Bes’thende, especially if he gets a chance to run at the tired legs of Stars’ fullbacks in the latter stages of this league clash.