Rangers hoping for a Happy Weekend

Kamlesh Gosai

Football fans are in for a treat this weekend. A derby between resurgent African Wanderers and struggling AmaZulu at the Kings Park Soccer Stadium on Saturday will be followed by a more tantalising match between Manning Rangers and Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday at the Kings Park rugby stadium.

Such is the magnitude of any match against Chiefs, that Rangers, even though they are the home side, have always been forced by the league to switch the tie to the rugby stadium to avoid spectator congestion.

The die-hard nationwide supporters' army that Chiefs commands makes it a virtual home away from home. But, despite having recorded more draws and no wins on their travels so far, Rangers' coach Gordon Igesund is not worried. Even with an outnumbered supporters' base, whose shouts will be drowned among those of the masses of the Amakhosi faithful, Igesund is claiming home ground advantage:

"I am not worried about Chiefs or how they come at us. I want to make sure that my players perform the way I want them to. Let them worry about us."

Full strength

With the exception of Democratic Republic of Congo defender Liswa Nduti, Rangers are expected to be at full strength. Solo Ndimande has resumed full training after a groin strain and is fit again to be considered for an attacking midfield position. Defensive midfielder Nkhiphitheni Matombo has been called up to the national Under-23 squad for an Olympic qualifier away to Ghana the following Sunday, but will join the squad after this weekend.

With every outing, Rangers have been improving as a team, and Igesund believes Chiefs are in the same position his team was in earlier in the season: "Chiefs are a relatively new team, similar to us. They have new players and a new coach (Muhsin Ertugral) and are not the team of old. But when they do click, they are a good side. They are just not putting it together at the moment.

"You can never discount the players in their side - (Thabo) Mooki, (Thabang) Lebese, Emeka) Mamale and Doctor Khumalo. There are individuals in their side who have to be taken care of. They have signed David Nyathi and he makes a huge difference in their side. Lebese will have to be picked up tight. (Siyabonga) Nomvete and Mooki can't be allowed the space to play. We have to close them down quickly. When they get going the crowd gets behind them and it gets difficult for us. They are under pressure at the moment. That's their problem. I've got a few things up my sleeve and I hope they work out."