Free State Stars and Bidvest Wits will face off in an Absa Premiership encounter at the Goble Park Stadium in Bethlehem on Wednesday.Kick-off is at 7:30pm.
Ea Lla Koto were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Cape Town City in their previous league match at the Cape Town Stadium last week Friday.
This was the Bethlehem side’s second consecutive league defeat. They are also winless in five league matches – having registered four defeats and one draw.
Stars are placed 14th on the league table with 23 points from 27 matches. They are only above the relegation zone on goal difference with three ames left.
Nhlanhla Vilakazi, the Ea Lla Koto midfielder, will miss Wednesday’s clash due to suspension and his side may have to secure victories in their last three league matches in order to survive relegation.
Stars head coach Serame Letsoaka has fired a warning to Wits, who are one of the favourites to win this season’s league title, ahead of their encounter.
“I have no doubt about the level of mental strength from our boys. Going into the game against Wits‚ we are not going to look down‚ we will go there and try and fight with everything we have,” Letsoaka said.
“If the Gods of football are still with us‚ this is one of the games we will definitely win because they have not had a good record against us at Goble Park.
“We are hoping that the same record we have had over the years will repeat itself. We need to make sure our hopes are raised by the performance we put in on the day.”
Meanwhile, Wits are coming off a 1-0 victory over Maritzburg United in their previous match at the Bidvest Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Phumlani Ntshangase’s second-half goal was enough to hand the Clever Boys an important victory at home in Braamfontein.
The narrow win extended Wits’ winning streak to four league matches. The four wins came against Highlands Park, Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and United
Wits are sitting at the top of the league table with 57 points from 27 matches. They are three points ahead of second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns.
If the Clever Boys win their last three matches they will clinch a historic first league title. But their key full-back S’fiso Hlant will miss their clash with Stars due to suspension.
Stars have a good home record against Wits and as a result Clever Boys coach Gavin Hunt is obviously wary of Ea Lla Koto, who are fighting relegation.
“It has never been kind to us. But maybe it is our time now. We will go there with a positive mind frame. They are a hard side to play against there,” Hunt said.
“They are fighting for their lives and we are fighting on the other side of the table.
“We are under no illusion what to expect there. I have been going there for 35 years‚ I know what it’s like.”
When Stars and Wits clashed in the first-round league encounter last December, the latter recorded a 3-1 win at the Bidvest Stadium.
Frank Mhango and Phakamani Mahlambi (brace) both scored for the Clever Boys, while Thokazani Sekotlong scored for Ea Lla Koto.