SuperSport, Downs desperate for a win

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Neeskens_Hunt Gallo Images SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt and Sundowns' Johan Neesken pose with the Telkom Knockout trophy.

Johannesburg – Pretoria outfits SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns will look to brush off their league struggles and build on their solid cup form when they lock horns in the Telkom Knockout semi-final in Polokwane on Saturday night.

SuperSport, three-time league champions in the last five seasons, are 11th in the Premiership standings with eight stalemates in 10 games, and Sundowns are lying bottom of the table with only one win in the campaign.

“We're obviously very disappointed with our league form,” Hunt said ahead of the cup clash.

“This season, we seem to have produced our best performances in the cup competitions.

“It's a little frustrating for me because I don't want to become like that. It certainly is not the way we like to play.”

Their cup form has seen United reach two finals this year – winning the Nedbank Cup at the end of last season and losing to Moroka Swallows in the MTN8 final in September – but Hunt wanted consistency in all competitions.

“It's a very difficult time of the season because you play so many cup competitions,” he said.

“We have to balance out the act. We've been doing well in the cup competitions but badly in the league.

“We have produced of our best performances in the cup, but you don't want to be bottom of the league or near the bottom like we are and play well in the cups. I'd certainly prefer it the other way around.”

Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens was eager to turn a poor league season around with a good cup run as they aimed to book their place in the final.

“Things aren't going too well in the league, we all know that,” Neeskens said.

“There are things to be improved but we still have a chance to win something.

“If you get this far, to the last four, you have a big opportunity.

“We should go for it and try to do our best to win Saturday's game and try to go and win the final.

“It is a nice challenge and we should give it our all and see where that leads us.”

On Sunday, Free State Stars host Bloemfontein Celtic in the other semi-final, another derby affair in Phuthaditjhaba.

Stars, boosted by the return from suspension of anchor midfielder Paulus Masehe and Dove Wome, are in search of their second league cup title after lifting the trophy in 1994.

“This is a historic match and it's time for this generation to be part of history, going to the final and winning the cup,” said Stars coach Steve Komphela.

Celtic mentor Clinton Larsen also hoped to end his side's cup drought.

The Bloemfontein outfit have not lifted a trophy in any top-flight competition since 2005.

“Everybody is looking forward to the game. It's a big game for the club,” Larsen said.

“We are expecting a tough game but we are confident if we come to the party we can advance to the final.” – Sapa

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