Johannesburg - Defending champions Kaizer Chiefs are gearing up for a tough start as they begin the defence of their Telkom Knockout (TKO) title with a tricky last 16 clash against Platinum Stars in Phokeng, outside Rustenburg, on Sunday.
Amakhosi are in line to earn a hat-trick of TKO crowns, but beating Stars, the inaugural TKO champions in 2006, will be no easy feat with coach Owen da Gama turning them into a force this season.
"We will need to raise our game if we are to come back with a result," said Chiefs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala.
"They gave us a few problems the last time we went there, although we ended up coming from behind to win 3-2.
"We are going all out to defend the trophy - that is the most important thing for us as a team."
Following recent reports of internal problems within the Chiefs camp, a chance to salvage some silverware might be the perfect ingredient to inject some harmony back in the squad.
In search of a better display and attitude, Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic opted to field fringe players in a league match last week, which produced the required result as they earned a 2-0 win over Black Leopards.
This week, however, Chiefs might see the return of regular captain Jimmy Tau at right back after Tlou Molekwane, who was impressive in the Leopards outing, picked up an injury in training.
Tau and Vermezovic have not seen eye-to-eye after a dressing room row that followed their 2-1 loss to Golden Arrows last month, after which the Serbian-born trainer was vocal about his senior players not taking enough responsibility in the team.