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SA SOCCER NEWS
Minnows Want Semi Spots 18/04/03
The inaugural ABSA Cup is nearing conclusion and this week eight teams will battle it out for a spot in the semi-finals.

There is only one all-PSL between Santos and Hellenic meaning three First Division sides have the chance of upsetting a big gun and gaining some much-needed income for their clubs.

An added incentive of getting through to the last four is the fact that most of the big names of South African soccer, like Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows, have already been knocked out, meaning a seemingly easier ride to Cup glory.
 
Silver Stars vs Jomo Cosmos (Saturday, April 19)
Thohoyandou Stadium
 
Silver Stars displayed some very good football in the game against Pirates, and the Buccaneers couldn't believe it as they were knocked out of the Cup.

This week Stars come up against Jomo Cosmos in the quarter-finals - again at their happy hunting ground of Thohoyandou.
 
The question on everybody's lips is: Can Silver Stars repeat what they did against Pirates two weeks back? Or will Cosmos show that the result was just a fluke, and hammer the pretenders?
 
Jomo Sono knows not to underestimate lower division sides - when Cosmos played against Leicester City, he took his full squad and prepared his team for a tough encounter as he didn't know what he was up against. After all, for the minnows of the Cup, every match is a final...
 
This weekend, they should be aware of two in-form players from Silver Stars strikers Surprise Moriri and Koketso Mmotong. As a strike partnership, they are more than capable of carving through most defences.
 
Such is the importance of the clash that Moriri did not play in last week's league game, as coach Owen da Gama gave other players a chance to play so that he could be fit and raring to go in the Cup match.

Cosmos Assistant coach Collen Tlemo said: "We are going to take this game very seriously - not like Pirates when they underrated these guys.
 
"We respect them but we are not going to let them play their natural game. They've got good players in their side, especially Daniel 'Sailor' Tshabalala in the midfield, and their two strikers Moriri and Mmotong, and we shall ensure that they don't have room to play.

"Stars are a good team, but they must remember that this is a Cup game and our boys are very serious when we talk about a lot of money!"

Santos v Hellenic (Saturday, April 19)
Athlone Stadium
 
For Santos, this is the big one. Reigning league champions, this season's Top Eight winners, and SuperBowl winners the year before, the 'People's Team' will be desperate to progress through to the next round to add to their kudos.
 
The difference between the quarter-finals and the semi-finals is a massive R200 000, so Hellenic will be going all-out to stay in the competition and make their first progression to a Cup semi-final since 1994 - when they went on to the Coca Cola Final and lost to QwaQwa Stars.
 
Hellenic team manager Guy Hedderwick says that the club will be paying 35% of the Cup winnings to the players. This comes as a spur to the players, who are obviously worried following the liquidation of parent company 7-11.
 
"On the way we have been playing, we are confident of a win over Santos," he said. "The added financial incentives can only make our players try harder."

For Santos, who are fighting for a top eight spot as well as facing a difficult task in the champions League, this is a game they could do without.
 
Santos' coach Boebie Solomons said: "Hellenic are playing good football, so they will be no walkover ... and also their players will be looking to the benefits. Santos are definitely starting as underdogs in this match.
 
"But we are taking it one game at a time. Between me and (co-coach) Farouk Khan we are discussing the future, and we are not looking at the tenth game ahead - rather at the first game.
 
"With this match, being a derby, it's a question of who wants it most on the day. Both sides will show a lot of determination and grit to win."
 
Alexandra United v Ajax Cape Town (Sunday, April 20)
Alexandra Stadium
 
First Division side Alexandra United are fast establishing themselves as the unsung heroes of the ABSA Cup.

All eyes are on fellow campaigners Silver Stars, but 'Eewie' Khambule's Alex-based team is in a mean mood to prove they can also pull surprises if left unnoticed.

Having played away in the first two rounds, with tough away clashes to fellow campaigners Ennerdale Arcadia (4-1 win) and Maholosiane (5-4 on penalties) respectively, the Alex homeboys are happy to be back in Gauteng to host Ajax Cape Town in the quarterfinals.
 
The only recognised names at United are Tshepo Molatedi (former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder) and Caesar Maphalla (ex-Santos), but the team revolves around Edgar 'Section' Nkosi and super striker Sipho 'Gunners' Baloyi, who are on three and four goals respectively in the Cup.
 
Defenders Lolo Tshisikhawe, Bongani Khambule, 'Fire' Dladla and goalie Casey Sempe are some of the unfamiliar names who are also doing well in United colours.
 
It is quite ironic that Ajax are coming to Gauteng with new boy Maimane Phiri on board he is the former Alex United player and was training with the team for three weeks before joining the Urban Warriors.
 
Young reserve goalie Oscar Ramogoadi is also another homeboy coming the Alex way on April 20.
 
"I've been training with them (Alex United) for a while. I know them inside out as much as I'm used to their pitch.

I don't owe them anything but I'm expecting a tough clash since I was back in Alex to watch them when they played Bloemfontein Young Tigers recently," says Phiri, who was booed by the Alex fans as he accompanied assistant coach Cavin Johnson to spy on his homeboys.
 
Team manager Eric Dalton says that Ajax have close to a full squad for the clash. "Andile Sixaba is suspended following three yellow cards, and Tony Baffoe is sitting out his second red card match, but aside from that we are OK.

"We have a standard payment of 50% of cup winnings to players, so the team have an added incentive to do well."
 
Bloemfontein Celtic vs Sundowns (Sunday, April 20)
Seisa Ramabodu Stadium
 
Bloemfontein Celtic face Sundowns after beating Rygersdal 4-0 at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium. Can Phunya Selesele go through to the semi-finals by getting a win on Sunday?
 
However, Downs striker Daniel Mudau is positive that his team are going to play the next round.
 
"We are not going to underestimate Celtic, as we know they are a very capable outfit," he said. "We must just double our efforts, and work hard to get to the semi-finals.
 
"We lost against Primero de Agosto in Angola, but that doesn't mean we are not focused for this coming game. Everyone is confident, dedicated and hungry to play in the next round.

You know the league is about to end and every wants to play, and prove to the coach or management that they can still play for Sundowns next season.
 
"We have played Celtic before and we know that we mustn't concede anything against them.
 
Midfield ace Isaac Shai said: "My own opinion is that the pressure is on us because Celtic want to prove that it is not a fluke for them to qualify for the next round - not to forget that they want to show everyone that they are capable of competing in the PSL.
 
"To be honest I respect them as they are a former Premier League team, and we have to keep that in mind as we get ready for this game.
 
"It is going to be difficult to plan against them because they've got different players now and we don't know their weaknesses and strong points. It would have been easier if they were still in the top flight!"
 
"But it is an important game for us as we want to win this cup," Shai says.

Former Celtic midfielder - and now acting coach - Benjamin Reed is confident about his boys' chances.
 
"I know that Sundowns won't allow us to dominate the game and we are not going to let them play. It is going to be an interesting game, as all cup games are. I'm not worried about Sundowns& I am more concerned about ourselves.
 
Former under-23 international Ace Gulwa warns Sundowns that they mustn't think that they are going to win this game.
 
"We respect them as one of the big teams in the Premier League but that doesn't mean that they will not get a tough game," he said.

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