Injury-plagued SuperSport remain a threat, Katsande warns
Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande says the fact that Telkom Knockout quarterfinal opponents SuperSport United will be missing key players, when the teams clash in Durban on Sunday, won't make them any less of a threat.
Chiefs have not won any of their last eight meetings with SuperSport, and in that time have been knockout out of the MTN8 twice, including this season, and the Nedbank Cup by Matsatsantsa.
They will be desperate not to make it a hat trick of domestic cup failures against the Pretoria-based side, especially with pressure mounting on coach Giovanni Solinas and the players after last weekend's Soweto Derby defeat.
SuperSport will be without injured duo Dean Furman and Bradley Grobler through injury, the latter being destroyer-in-chief with three goals when they dumped the AmaKhosi out of the MTN8 at the semifinal stage.
It is a big blow to them, but Katsande warns there are plenty of other dangermen lurking in the squad.
"We are much aware of certain players who will be missing but at the same time we don't need to be more worried about the individuals‚" Katsande told reporters.
"We should be more worried about the philosophy of SuperSport. We've been planning around their philosophy because you can remove one certain individual but the system stays the same.
"It will be a chance to somebody who will get an opportunity to showcase their talents."
Katsande says they understand very well about how their opponents will set up on Sunday and it will come down to execution on the day.
"We have been working according to their game plan‚ according to their set up because obviously even if you go to Barcelona the set-up stays the same even if [Lionel] Messi is not there," he continued.
"So we just need to be worried more about their system than the individuals. We need to know how to counter-press them‚ and how to execute our game plan against them."
The Zimbabwe international added that Chiefs won't get too wrapped up in the history of the future and their poor run, believing this will be a new day and a chance to reverse that slide.
"We all know that history says that we've not beaten them in eight matches but this is a new game with different ingredients‚" he said.
"So we are looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to give our fans something to smile about.
"We need to take responsibility on the field and try to play and do everything as a team."
Before then, Orlando Pirates travel to the Moses Mabhida Stadium to face AmaZulu as they hope to improve on a frankly astonishing record that has seen them only lift the Telkom Knockout trophy once in the last 36 years, despite reaching eight finals in all.
The Buccaneers have steadily improved as the season has gone on and are on an eight-game unbeaten run, which includes last weekend's morale-boosting Derby win.
Coach Micho Sredojevic has suggested that Saturday evening's game is just as important as any they will play this season.
"Every single match is important and the duty at Pirates is always to have the highest possible target to win everything that is on offer," he told the media.
"We focus on each match as it comes, and now all our concentration, and commitment is on our match against AmaZulu. This is what we are looking forward to.
"We shall see if it'll satisfy the appetite of the most loyal and most demanding supporters."
Another astonishing statistic to throw out there is that this will be the first cup clash between these sides in any competition since 1994, with the pair having been amazingly kept apart despite being regulars in the same competitions all down the years.
The weekend action gets under way on Saturday afternoon when Mamelodi Sundowns travel to Limpopo to face Baroka FC in what looks a routine clash against the Polokwane strugglers.
But Sundowns have the tendency to shoot themselves in the foot and coach Pitso Mosimane says he has enough of their failure to deliver.
"Sundowns is such a nice team," Mosemane remarked.
"My players are good people. I need shrewd players. We should kill the game as early as the first 20 minutes. When my team feels like they have an opportunity to play, they like to play and they forget about winning the match.
"Because they find openings, they keep enjoying themselves."
For all their star quality, Sundowns have only won three cup trophies under Mosimane (granted one was the CAF Champions League), which is a poor return in six seasons for the most expensively assembled squad in South African football history.
The final game of the round will be played on Saturday night, when holders Bidvest Wits travel to Maritzburg United, a team who simply can't score in front of their own fans.
Maritzburg have managed to net in just one of their last seven home fixtures and they now come up against the most miserly defence in the Premier Soccer League. This one might be going to penalties.