Johannesburg - With three matches remaining before he leaves for Tottenham Hotspur, SuperSport United skipper Bongani Khumalo says he wants to depart on a positive note.
Khumalo has been out injured for several weeks and its perhaps fitting for a player that has given such loyal service to the PSL champions that he has recovered in time to make a few appearances before he sets sail from South African shores for new adventures.
Khumalo will provide a welcome boost for coach Gavin Hunt when Matsatsantsa meet Platinum Stars at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night (20:15 kick-off).
Especially so when taken into account that fellow centre-back Morgan Gould will miss the game through suspension.
Khumalo wants nothing more than to leave on a high note and will be doing everything possible to help secure as many points before the break as United look relegate a sluggish start to the past.
“I’m glad to be back in the mix for the final three games. We have not had a good start and these games give us the chance to rectify that.
“I will be doing all I can to make a difference to the team and leave them in a good position,” said Khumalo. SuperSport are currently ninth of the Absa Premiership standings, Stars are 11th.
Khumalo says traditionally games against Dikwena are tough, although for the most part the Pretoria side have triumphed (they have nine wins against Stars’ three in head-to-heads) – a quiet confidence would seem the order of the day.
“We’ve always been pushed hard against Stars, although we have managed good results against them. They are a good team, but if we can keep our shape we can get the three points,” added Khumalo.
Stars have only lost one of their last six games, although they have also only won once in this period, with four draws slowing their progress.
However, a 0-0 draw with high-flying Golden Arrows in their most recent game was a decent result and Owen da Gama’s men should have a fair amount of self-belief that they can at least secure a point on Saturday.
It was another good showing for Mbulelo Mabizela and co in defence, but Stars remain flimsy in attack - Bradley Grobler and Lebo Ramolesa are the only players to score more than one goal – they each have two.
Skipper Stanley Kgatla says Stars won’t be underestimating SuperSport, despite the Tshwane side appearing to no longer be the force of old.
“They may have lost a few good players, but they are still a very good side who know how to wins things,” said Kgatla.
On the record at least he may be affording United respect, but off the record, most teams will surely be more optimistic about taking points off Hunt’s side than they were a year or two ago.
Kgatla adds that Stars won’t go through the motions ahead of Christmas.
“The players are very focussed and have worked hard this week. There is no thought of resting up – we are not happy with our league position – we want to improve on that and ensure that we can start the New Year in a confident mood,” said Stars’ most-capped player.
Last season saw the teams playing to a 1-1 draw in the first round, with United winning the second round game 1-0.