Absa Premiership midweek preview: Baroka face a test of their mettle

Letladi Madubanya of Baroka FC is challenged by Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Baroka FC on 10 May 2017 at Lucas Moripe Stadium © Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Nov 21, 2017. 11:00

Surprise Absa Premiership leaders Baroka FC will face a test of their mettle when they battle Cape Town City tonight in the first of seven midweek league fixtures in South Africa.

Baroka have been the surprise package of the top fight thus far, holding a two-point lead at the head of the table over a chasing pack of three clubs: Golden Arrows, Cape Town City and Bloemfontein Celtic.

Benni McCarthy’s City will view the chance to leapfrog to the top of the log – temporarily at least – as all the motivation they need to build on the 1-0 win they claimed over Free State Stars prior to the international break.

The pick of Tuesday’s matches sees Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns – the two teams which battled for the title last season – looking to revive their respective campaigns.

While the Clever Boys have won just two of nine league matches, ‘Downs have seen less action due to their African commitments earlier in the season and at least know that winning all of their games in hand would propel them to the top of the log. In further bad news for hosts Wits, the Brazilians have a 100 percent away record this season.

Tuesday’s action is wrapped up by Orlando Pirates hosting Golden Arrows. The Buccaneers have yet to really get out of second gear this season, but coach Milutin Sredojevic will hope the visit of one of the league’s top-ranked teams brings the best out of his charges.

Moving onto Wednesday, the focus will fall on Kaizer Chiefs, who have a potentially tricky game away to AmaZulu. The Soweto giants suffered a dispiriting loss in the semifinals of the Telkom Knockout this past weekend and are in need of a lift against Usuthu.

TKO finalists Bloemfontein Celtic will look to keep up their momentum when they face bottom-of-the-log Platinum Stars away, Free State Stars will welcome Chippa United to Bethlehem for an early kick-off, and the meeting of Maritzburg United and Polokwane City sees two teams looking to rise back into the middle region of the log after slumps in their respective form.

The scheduled match between SuperSport United and Ajax Cape Town was postponed due to the former’s participation in the ongoing CAF Confederation Cup final.

Absa Premiership midweek fixtures

All times 19h30 CAT unless otherwise stated

Tuesday 21 November

Cape Town City v Baroka FC – 18h00 CAT

Bidvest Wits v Mamelodi Sundowns

Orlando Pirates v Golden Arrows

Wednesday 22 November

Free State Stars v Chippa United – 18h00 CAT

Platinum Stars v Bloemfontein Celtic

AmaZulu v Kaizer Chiefs

Polokwane City v Maritzburg United

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Celtic edge Maritzburg in midweek clash – ABSA Premiership 2017/18

Kabelo Mahlasela of Bloemfontein Celtic celebrates goal with teammates during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 football match between Cape Town City FC and Bloemfontein Celtic at Athlone Stadium, Cape Town on 17 October 2017 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Oct 31, 2017. 21:25

Jacky Motshegwa scored the only goal of the game as Bloemfontein Celtic defeated Maritzburg United 1-0 in an Absa Premiership clash at Dr Molemela Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Phunya Sele Sele move to 15 points from nine games and assume third place on the log, while the Team of Choice drop two places to 13th with nine points from their eight outings.

The teams had little to separate them in the early minutes, with the midfield battle notable for its ferocity, and chances were scarce in the opening quarter hour.

However, in the 16th minute, Celtic claimed the ascendancy through Jacky Motshegwa, as the 29-year-old took advantage of a defensive error from the hosts to beat Richard Ofori with a well-placed effort.

Maritzburg responded strongly to going behind, with the likes of Lebohang Maboe and Evans Rusike looking dangerous in attack, but they were unable to find a way through the hosts’ defence.

Celtic almost doubled their advantage in the 35th minute, with a patient build-up allowing midfielder Lantshene Phalane a shooting chance, but he struck his effort over the crossbar.

The second half continued in a similar vein to the first, with the teams cancelling each other out in midfield. Maritzburg made a bold tactical move by bringing on both Sheldon van Wyk and Pogiso Sanoka at the restart.

The Team of Choice gradually asserted control of proceedings in their search for an equaliser, but Celtic’s well-organised defence gave nothing away and were able to see out the 90 minutes without conceding.

The Bloemfontein team will be back in action this weekend when they face Platinum Stars in a Telkom Knockout quarterfinal, while Maritzburg will only play again on November 21 against Polokwane City.

Bloemfontein Celtic (1) 1 (Motshegwa 16’)

Maritzburg United 0

Celtic: Tignyemb, Letlabika (Lubisi 62’), Rikhotso, Pfumbidzai, Ndengane, Baloyi, Phalane, Hotto, Motshegwa (Mahlasela 66’), Mabena, Letsoalo (Nyondo 81’)

Maritzburg: Ofori, Onyango (Sanoka 46’), Fransman, Xulu, Ndlovu, Mokate, Maboe, Shandu, Atouba (van Wyk 46’), Saal, Rusike (Mekoa 74’)

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Andre Ayew turns attention to Crystal Palace after midweek heroics – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

Graeme Jackson

Thursday Oct 26, 2017. 14:00

Ghana attacker Andre Ayew has urged his West Ham United teammates to turn their attention to the challenge of Crystal Palace this weekend.

Ayew was the star turn in the Hammers’ midweek League Cup win over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, scoring a brace of goals in the second half.

West Ham came from two goals down to defeat Spurs 3-2 at Wembley on Wednesday evening and advance into the next round of the League Cup.

Ayew, who was named man of the match for his strikes in the 55th and 60th minutes, wants to see United perform with similar strength in the Premier League this weekend.

“I want to congratulate the whole team, it’s a massive win,” Ayew said.

“We have a massive game on Saturday. We have to enjoy this, but prepare for Saturday.

“We knew if we scored early in the second half we’d have a chance. We need to relax and work hard because Saturday is a big one.”

West Ham are just two places above the relegation zone heading into the match against the Eagles, having been beaten 3-0 at home by Brighton & Hove Albion in their last Premier League outing.

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Nigerian Moses Simon nets brace in Gent’s midweek win – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa

Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Oct 25, 2017. 17:00

Nigerian attacker Moses Simon inspired KAA Gent to a 3-0 win over AS Eupen in Belgian top flight football on Tuesday night.

The Super Eagles winger scored two penalties – in the 36th and 38th minutes – to round off the scoring for Gent at their GHELAMCO-Arena.

The hosts had earlier opened the scoring through Japan’s Yuya Kubo, who was set-up by Nigerian Samuel Kalu.

Gent also featured Ghana’s Nana Asare, Tunisian Dylan Bronn and another Nigerian, Anderson Esiti, in an African-heavy line-up.

Simon has now scored three goals in 10 league appearances, while Kalu has also hit the back of the net three times from his nine appearances.

Gent are placed 12th on the Belgian top flight table with 13 points from 12 matches.

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Absa Premiership midweek wrap: Baroka continue to lead the way

Philani Zulu of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Percy Tau of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on 17 October 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Thursday Oct 19, 2017. 09:30

Baroka FC continue to be the surprise leaders of the Absa Premiership following a round of midweek matches which featured impressive performances from Kaizer Chiefs, Bloemfontein Celtic, Free State Stars and Polokwane City.

Tuesday night saw two away wins, as Kaizer Chiefs eased the pressure on coach Steve Komphela with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Stadium, while Bloemfontein Celtic edged Cape Town City 1-0 at Athlone Stadium.

The Amakhosi’s win in Tshwane featured a debut goal for young defender Siyabonga Ngezana and a fine strike from veteran Bernard Parker, while Phunya Sele Sele’s Kabelo Mahlasela scored the only goal against Benni McCarthy’s Citizens, who were unable to bounce back from the disappointment of their MTN8 final loss last weekend.

The pick of Wednesday’s five matches was Polokwane City’s 3-2 away win over AmaZulu in Durban – where Rodney Ramagalela’s fifth goal of the season proved to be the difference between the teams – while Free State Stars racked up a third straight victory by overpowering Ajax Cape Town 2-0 in Bethlehem.

Baroka FC and Golden Arrows remain the top two on the log standings – and both still unbeaten – after they drew 1-1 at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Orlando Pirates bid farewell to their 100 percent home record by being held 1-1 by bottom-of-the-log Platinum Stars at FNB Stadium, and Chippa United recorded a fifth successive draw with a goalless stalemate at home to Maritzburg United.

The Absa Premiership will continue this coming weekend with a full set of fixtures, the pick of which is the Soweto derby between Chiefs and Pirates at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Absa Premiership midweek results

Tuesday 17 October

Mamelodi Sundowns 1-2 Kaizer Chiefs

Cape Town City 0-1 Bloemfontein Celtic

Wednesday 18 October

Chippa United 0-0 Maritzburg United

Free State Stars 2-0 Ajax Cape Town

Orlando Pirates 1-1 Platinum Stars

Baroka FC 1-1 Golden Arrows

AmaZulu 2-3 Polokwane City

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AfricanFootball reviews the midweek Absa Premiership action

Thabo Nodada of Cape Town City shields ball from Ntsikelelo Nyauza of Orlando Pirates during the 2017/18 Absa Premiership football match between Orlando Pirates and Cape Town City at Soccer City, Johannesburg on 19 September 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Austin Ditlhobolo

Thursday Sep 21, 2017. 10:00

AfricanFootball reviews the midweek matches in the Absa Premiership, which saw Golden Arrows retain their place at the top of the log on goal difference, while champions Bidvest Wits continue to struggle after they were soundly beaten by AmaZulu.

Tuesday’s headline result was Orlando Pirates’ 1-0 win over Cape Town City at the FNB Stadium. The Buccaneers moved to the top of the table on 11 points thanks to Thabo Qalinge’s late strike, while Benni McCarthy’s Citizens suffered a second successive league loss at the hands of a Soweto giant.

Also on Tuesday evening, Chippa United fought back from a goal down to hold SuperSport United 1-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, while the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium witnessed a five-goal thriller between Polokwane City and Free State Stars.

Ea Lla Koto emerged 3-2 victors – their first win of the 2017/18 campaign, as well as City’s third successive defeat – though the Free State side very nearly contrived to throw away a three-goal lead (featuring a brace from Mohammed Anas) with a slack second-half performance.

A busy evening of games on Wednesday featured an impressive 3-0 win for AmaZulu over Bidvest Wits. The reigning champions have made a terrible start to the season after taking just two points from five matches. And things won’t get any easier for the Clever Boys, as they come up against Pirates this weekend.

Arrows claimed first spot on goal difference after a late penalty from Kuda Mahachi secured a 1-0 win at bottom-of-the-log Platinum Stars, while Baroka FC made it a three-way tie at the top thanks to their 2-0 win at Bloemfontein Celtic.

The individual performance of the round was probably Itumeleng Khune’s heroics for Kaizer Chiefs in a 2-0 win at Maritzburg United. Gustavo Paez scored both goals for the Amakhosi, but their goalkeeper took home the plaudits with a third successive Man of the Match award.

The Absa Premiership will continue this weekend with six matches spread across September 22-24, starting with Cape Town City v Polokwane City on Friday night.

Absa Premiership midweek results

Tuesday 19 September

Orlando Pirates 1-0 Cape Town City

SuperSport United 1-1 Chippa United

Polokwane City 2-3 Free State Stars

Wednesday 20 September

Maritzburg United 0-2 Kaizer Chiefs

Bloemfontein Celtic 0-2 Baroka FC

AmaZulu 3-0 Bidvest Wits

Platinum Stars 0-1 Golden Arrows

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AfricanFootball reviews the midweek Absa Premiership action – ABSA Premiership 2017/18

Wayne Arendse of Mamelodi Sundowns and Siphelele Mthembu of Free State Stars during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 game between Free State Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns at Goble Park, Bethlehem on 11 September 2017 © Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Thursday Sep 14, 2017. 10:00

AfricanFootball looks back at the third round of the 2017/18 Absa Premiership, which wrapped up on Wednesday night with champions Bidvest Wits suffering a home defeat to continue their stuttering start to the season, while Kaizer Chiefs overcame Cape Town City to pick up their first victory.

The Clever Boys were outplayed in Johannesburg, where goals from Lerato Lamola, Zolani Nkombelo and Nduduzo Sibiya saw Abafana Bes’thende take three points at the home of the league champions, avenging their MTN8 quarterfinal loss against the same team last month.

Chiefs and under-fire coach Steve Komphela picked up perhaps the most significant win of the round, as goals from Siphiwe Tshabalala and youngster Wiseman Meyiwa saw them overcome Benni McCarthy’s Cape Town City.

The Mother City side had won five on the bounce across all competitions, but they were very much second best to the Soweto giants and suffered a first loss under the guidance of McCarthy.

The round’s action got underway on Monday evening at Goble Park, where Percy Tau came off the bench to score a superb brace of goals and inspire Mamelodi Sundowns to a 2-1 win away at Free State Stars.

The Brazilians’ fine performance on the road clearly inspired Baroka FC and Bloemfontein Celtic – both teams claimed their first wins of the season by respectively trumping Chippa United 3-1 and Polokwane City 2-1 in away clashes on Tuesday. Gift Motupa scored a brace for Bakgaga, and Ndumiso Mabena did the same for Phunya Sele Sele.

Tuesday also featured a narrow win for Orlando Pirates, who edged a stuttering Ajax Cape Town 1-0 thanks to Bernard Morrison’s early strike, while SuperSport United handed Platinum Stars a third successive loss (in new coach Roger de Sa’s first match in charge) as Sifiso Myeni and Jeremy Brockie struck late goals.

There was also a KwaZulu-Natal derby which saw AmaZulu fight back from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw at home to Maritzburg United – The Team of Choice remain unbeaten in the league, and top the log on goal difference ahead of Pirates.

Absa Premiership midweek results

Monday 11 September

Free State Stars 1-2 Mamelodi Sundowns

Tuesday 12 September

SuperSport United 2-0 Platinum Stars

Orlando Pirates 1-0 Ajax Cape Town

AmaZulu 1-1 Maritzburg United

Chippa United 1-3 Baroka FC

Polokwane City 1-2 Bloemfontein Celtic

Wednesday 13 September

Bidvest Wits 1-3 Golden Arrows

Cape Town City 0-2 Kaizer Chiefs

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Chippa, AmaZulu set for midweek battle – ABSA Premiership 2017/18

Musa Nyatama of Orlando Pirates is challenged by Andile Mbenyane of Chippa United during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Chippa United on the 19 August 2017 at Orlando Stadium © Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Monday Aug 21, 2017. 09:06

Chippa United and AmaZulu will meet for a midweek Absa Premiership battle at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on 22 August 2017, kick-off at 19h30.

Chippa opened their league campaign on a losing note as they went down 1-0 away to Orlando Pirates on Saturday evening. Thamsanqa Gabuza scored the only goal of the game as the Eastern Cape side slumped to a loss on the road.

It’s a feeling the Chilli Boys and coach Dan Malesela are used to, having suffered no less than 10 defeats from their 15 away matches last season. A return to Port Elizabeth this midweek will be very welcome, as they look to turn the NMBS into a fortress.

AmaZulu made a winning return to the top flight after they defeated Free State Stars 1-0 at home this past weekend. A late penalty from Tapelo Nyongo ensured the KwaZulu-Natal side got up and running with an early three pointer.

Coach Cavin Johnson will reiterate the need for discipline as his side heads down the East Coast for what promises to be a challenging clash against a dangerous and unpredictable opponent.

In head-to-head stats, Chippa and AmaZulu have met in just four previous league matches. The Eastern Cape side boasts an unbeaten record, with two victories and two draws – both of the stalemates arrived in home matches for the Chilli Boys, including the teams’ most recent meeting, a 1-1 draw back in March 2015.

That draw in the Eastern Cape followed a 1-0 win for Chippa earlier in the season, ensuring they took four points off Usuthu through the course of the 2014/15 PSL campaign.

Chippa’s line-up from their 1-0 loss to Pirates on 19 August: Mhlongo, Mako, Thopola, Okwuosa, Mdinzo, Zuke, Lentjies (Mabaso 50′), Masuku (Mayambela 67′), Macheke, Sekola, Mbenyane (Mbokoma 55′).

AmaZulu’s line-up from their 1-0 win over Stars on 19 August: Pule, Mtsweni, Ouro-Akoriko, Sikhakhane, Nyongo, Morton, Darpoh, Zungu (Mngqibisa 67′), Karuru, Ramphele (L.Dlamini 79′), Khenyeza.

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Senegal defeat Guinea in midweek CHAN qualifier

Ellong Doualla Viera of Equatorial Guinea tackles Papa Alioune Ndiaye of Senegal during the 2019 Afcon qualifier between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea at Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor in Dakar, Senegal on the 10 June 2017 © BackpagePix

Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Aug 15, 2017. 18:00

Senegal have beaten Guinea 3-1 on Tuesday night in a West Zone A second round, first leg qualifier for the 2018 African Nations Championship.

The match at Stade Al Djigo in Dakar saw the Teranga Lions’ home-based side claim a 14th minute lead through Amadou Dia N’Diaye.

The hosts held a 1-0 lead through to the midway point of the second half, when the National Elephants equalised through Mohamed Sorel Camara.

Senegal responded to Guinea’s goal by reclaiming the lead in the 70th minute, as N’Diaye claimed his second of the night to make it 2-1.

And daylight was put between the teams by Assane Mbodji, who struck in the 83rd minute to give Senegal a two-goal advantage.

The return leg will be held at Stade du 28 Septembre in Conakry on August 22. The aggregate winner will qualify for the 2018 CHAN finals in Kenya.

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AfricanFootball previews CAF Confederation Cup midweek action

KCCA FC players celebrate after scoring

Graeme Jackson

Monday Jun 19, 2017. 12:00

AfricanFootball looks ahead to Matchday 4 of the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup, which will see eight matches are played in midweek.

Tuesday sees a logjam of fixtures from mid afternoon right up to late night kick-offs, starting with Angola’s Recreativo Libolo hosting Group C leaders Zesco United of Zambia in Calulo at 16h00 CAT.

An hour later Nigeria’s Rivers United face a must-win clash at home to Uganda’s KCCA in Group A, followed by Group D’s two matches as Horoya AC host strugglers CF Mounana, and SuperSport United host TP Mazembe in a top-of-the-table clash in Pretoria.

The late evening action begins in Sudan when Al-Hilal Al-Ubayyid look to keep themselves in the top two of Group C with a win at home to Egypt’s Smouha, followed by the Group A North African derby between Club Africain and FUS Rabat in Rades and Group B’s MC Alger hosting the surprisingly resilient Swazi contenders Mbabane Swallows.

The round of matches wraps up on Wednesday evening when Group B’s last-placed team Platinum Stars host leaders CS Sfaxien in Rustenburg. The South African side recently parted ways with coach Cavin Johnson and will be hoping new leadership sparks their African campaign into life.

CAF Confederation Cup, Matchday 4 fixtures

All times CAT

Tuesday 20 June

Group C – Recreativo Libolo v Zesco United – 16h00

Group A – Rivers United v KCCA – 17h00

Group D – Horoya AC v CF Mounana – 18h00

Group D – SuperSport United v TP Mazembe – 19h00

Group C – Al-Hilal Al-Ubayyid v FC Smouha – 22h00

Group A – Club Africain v FUS Rabat – 23h00

Group B – MC Alger v Mbabane Swallows – 23h00

Wednesday 21 June

Group B – Platinum Stars v CS Sfaxien – 19h00

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