Chippa looking to build solid foundation in Stars game
Chippa United defender James Okwuosa says nothing will make him happier than for Chippa to launch their Premier Soccer League campaign this season on a high note. The Chilli Boys open the league against Free State Stars at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday (kickoff 7.30pm).
Okwuosa, 25, says gaining the maximum three points in that game would set a good foundation for the season.
“What would get me happy this season is when I see us start well. Our first game will be against Free State Stars. Us getting the whole three points in that game will make my season so great.
“I would be so happy to see that we start on a good note,” he said.
“Also, if we can try and get a trophy this season for the people of the Eastern Cape, I would be very excited about it.”
Despite their impressive run in the league last season, which saw them finish in sixth position on the log and also booking themselves a spot in the MTN 8 competition, Chippa failed to secure any silverware.
Their first fixture in the MTN 8 competition takes place next Saturday when they play Platinum Stars at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg (kickoff 3pm).
The Chilli Boys were not great travellers last season and did not do well in most of their away matches.
But Okwuosa says playing away against Platinum Stars does not bother him. “I am not worried because, as far as I am concerned, football speaks the same language,” he said.
“It’s all up to the team that plays well on the day to get the victory.”
Another player who also says Chippa are ready and in good standing for the new season is Diamond Thopola.
He joined the Chilli Boys at the beginning of last season and the former Thanda Royal Zulu skipper played an important role in making sure that the team was solid in defence.
His outstanding performances caught the eye of Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba and subsequently resulted in a national call up this year.
He was part of the Bafana squad which travelled to Bakau to meet Gambia in the penultimate Afcon Group M clash in June.
The 26-year-old said Chippa coach Dan Malesela made sure his players were not overloaded during pre-season training.
But, he said, training was intense enough as the coach’s main focus was to get the players fitness up to standard.
“The coach wanted everyone to be in the right state of mind, to get our fitness levels back and get our tactics right.
“He also introduced his philosophy and made sure that every player, including those who have recently joined the team, understand how we play and what is expected of us,” Thopola said.
He said their camp also helped the players to get to know each other as the club had assembled quite a number of new players for the up-coming season.