SAA Supa 8 champions Jomo Cosmos travel to Thohoyandou on Saturday for a Castle Premiership match-up with Black Leopards.
Crisis At Cosmos
The Cosmos team has suffered crippling injuries and suspensions after they claimed the inaugural SAA Supa 8 Cup on Sunday by beating Swallows 3-2 in the final. Added to that, they also have striker Russel Mwafulirwa and midfielder Peter Mgangira are away on national duty.
On Wednesday night Cosmos were held by struggling Hellenic to a 0-0 draw, with the absence of their key players Teboho Mokoena, Sammy Magalefa (both suspended) and Tico-Tico Bucuane (injured), an obvious factor. The former two will at least be back in action for this match.
No Experience, Or Rhythm
Walter Rautmann, coach of Black Leopards, is doing his best with the players at his disposal. "We lost some of our best players before the season started and this has affected my planning for the campaign," Rautmann told SASoccer365.com.
"And starting the season by playing four games away, how do you find rhythm playing away? It's ridiculous."
"They (Cosmos) just won the Supa 8 and they've got experienced internationals, but hopefully the home support will spur us on to win our first game. We've been unlucky in recent times, against Santos we should have won that game, but a silly mistake cost us."
Injuries Weaken Leopards
Thokozani Mnguni will be out for the rest of the year and Godfrey Ramatsuli is also missing.
"Besides having new players, inexperienced players, now we have injured players too. Thokozani is one of my best players and he'll be out for a year, but we'll do our best throughout. We're hoping to finish mid-table now," Rautmann added.
Leopards: Khumalo, Masangane, Matola, Solopi, Motale, Nhleko, Lechesa, Mulaudzi, Netshidzivhe, Sithole, Mushangazikhe.
Cosmos: Phali, Rabutla, Mohlala, Gould, Ntsume, Mokoena, Mabeta, Mabalane, Lekgothoane, Cuhna, Nombe.
Players to watch:
Leopards: Coach Rautmann steered the team to nine victories and is still busy building the squad for Saturday. The gaffer is confident that his boys can cause un upset.
Cosmos: Despite the injury list the Cosmos squad does have depth, It will depend on coach Jomo Sono who plays where as he will still miss key players on Saturday.
February 22 Leopards 1-2 Cosmos, Thohoyandou
December 4 Cosmos 1-1 Leopards, Makhulong Stadium