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Birds Blocking Chiefs' Road To Glory 06/05/05
Kaizer Chiefs will have to clip the Birds wings on Saturday afternoon at the FNB Stadium if they hope to challenge Orlando Pirates for league title honours.

A Swallows victory would come as a welcome boost to the Sea Robbers, who play Wits University on Sunday, four days after having picked up a vital three points from their trip to Cape Town to play Ajax.

The Dube Birds are on a high after picking up six points from their last two outings, including a convincing win over Bloemfontein Celtic.

Unfortunately for the fanatical Dube Birds fans, last month's defeat to Bush Bucks has left them unable to challenge for title honours, but there is plenty to play for in tomorrow's clash at Soccer City - the pride of Soweto being near the top of the list.

Having defeated Amakhosi 1-0 in the first round match, Swallows can score a rare league double over the current Premiership champions if they emerge victorious tomorrow.

Birds PRO Sipho Xulu guaranteed that his side will come out fighting with all guns blazing on Saturday.

"We are not in the league chase, but we will be fighting right up until the final whistle tomorrow," said Xulu.

"There is a place in the African Champion's league which we are desperate to claim by finishing in the top three, while we also have a score to settle with Chiefs.

"Although we beat them in the league, we are still upset at having been knocked out of both the SAA Supa 8 and the Coca Cola Cup by them. And of course their is the pride of Soweto to play for - we are all ready for this game."

Swallows will be without defenders Warren Lewis and Ashley Opperman (both suspended) for this game, as well as injured forward Shaun Permall, who created the winning goal in the first round game.

Chiefs striker and top PSL goal scorer Collins Mbesuma had a tough time against Tonic Chabalala in the derby against Chiefs and he can expect more of the same against the classy Birds center back, Mohammed Ouseb, who has been a pillar of strength this season.

On the other hand, Chiefs have a known weakness at left-back and it will be interesting to see if Birds coach Gavin Hunt uses the pace of Cecil Oerson or the vision and passing ability of Mark McVeigh to best exploit this problem area.

Although Swallows are without Permall, Alois Ngwerume is a striker with plenty of promise and is likely to give a slow Chiefs defence plenty to worry about.

The Birds draw most of their inspiration from the middle of the park and in particular Goodman Mazibuko. The skipper was outstanding in the first round game, showing a commitment rarely seen in the PSL and if he is able to dominate against the likes of Tinashe Nengomashe and Shoes Moshoeu, then Swallows will be on their way to victory.

To counter this problem, Ted Dumitru should be advised to use former Swallows star, Jabu Mendu, alongside Nengomashe in the middle, while pushing up Shoes to take the place of an ineffectual David Radebe.

But the 'Professor' is not known to bow to public pressure and may decide against playing Mendu, as he has done for most of the season.

Only time will tell if this is the correct decision - to find out for yourself, be sure to get down to the FNB Stadium for what promises to be a real humdinger of a game.

By Anthony McLennan

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