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Sono highlights midfield battle as crucial 30/04/04
Jomo Cosmos club boss and former Orlando Pirates legend, Jomo Sono, thinks that Saturday's Soweto derby will be won and lost in the midfield department.

Both teams certainly possess a large number of highly-talented individuals in the middle of the park - on the Chiefs side there are potential match-winners such as John 'Shoes' Moshoeu, Stanton Fredericks and Junior Khanye, while on the Bucs side Bendecit Vilakazi, Joseph Makhanya, Steve Lekoelea and Bheka Phakathi are all likely to add their names to the score-sheet.

However, despite the abundance of attacking players available to both coaches, Sono feels that it is a more defensively-minded player - the highly rated Zimbabwean hardman, Tinashe Nengomashe, who holds the key to the outcome of Saturday's game.

The tough-tackling 21-year-old has been in sublime form this season and certainly looks set for a big future, having already attracted the attention of English First Division side Sheffield United.

He has been an instrumental part of the well-oiled Chiefs midfield machine this season, forcing coach Ted Dumitru to leave quality players such as Jabu Mendu and Thabo Mooki on the bench.

Sono has recognised the influence Nengomashe has on a game and feels the Zimbabwean will be pivotal to Amakhosi's chances on Saturday.

"The match will be won in the midfield and Nengomashe will be a key player for Chiefs," the 'Black Prince' is reported as saying in This Day newspaper.

"I have been watching him and he is a classy player who makes a difference in the Chiefs midfield."

Former Amakhosi great Malombo Lechaba also made mention of the influence Moshoeu and Mendu are likely to have on the game and went on to agree with Sono with regards to the quality of Nengomashe.

"Chiefs have played excellent football this season and much of the play has centred around Nengomashe, who is a solid midfielder," he said.

Although both of the former legends were keen to sing Nengomashe's praises, they were also quick to point out that Pirates also hold a potential match winner in Vilakazi.

The Bafana Bafana midfelder has really lived up to his reputation this season, not only with his influential play and hard-working attitude, but in particular his goal-scoring ability, having scored nine times in the league already this season, as well as four times in the African Champions League.

His good form was rewarded with a call-up to the Bafana Bafana team to take on Australia last month and Sono has warned the Amakhosi that they will need to keep 'Tso' under wraps.

"Chiefs will be punished if they leave Vilakazi alone. He works very hard and has scored many crucial goals for Pirates. Watching him and Nengomashe reminds me of my time at Pirates when I used to come up against Ace Ntsoelengoe when we played at Chiefs," he said.

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