“You better pray for me on Sunday morning,” Platinum Stars coach Cavin Johnson joked yesterday.But the way things are going at the moment, it is not Stars who need the prayers.
Their opponents in the Telkom Knockout on Sunday, Kaizer Chiefs, should be getting down on their knees and praying they are not embarrassed by Johnson’s high-flying Dikwena team at Moruleng Stadium.
Top of the Absa Premiership table with a mean attack that includes Robert Ng’ambi and Bonginkosi Ntuli, Dikwena certainly have what it takes to send Amakhosi packing early in the knockout competition.
With Johnson back at the club, Stars are oozing confidence and playing the kind of enterprising football the former Ajax Cape Town development coach speaks so passionately about.
Johnson left Stars for Supersport United a few years ago as a reward for finishing second in the league. But he was fired a few months into his second season before lucking out with Stars again. And they have continued from where they were when he left.
Ng’ambi and Sibusiso Msomi are enjoying their football again under Johnson and there have been improvements in defence after last season’s poor showing by the rearguard.
“Thanks to the football gods,” Johnson said when he spoke about his side’s impressive form.
“We started the building process when we finished second [in the 2012-2013 season]. Obviously I left and the team won two trophies. But the team went a step backwards [last season] and now we want to take two more steps forward.
“It’s good to be back here because I know the place. You just have to be better. The facilities we have are the best in the country. We have to make sure we use them well.”
Even though Amakhosi have been struggling a bit with Steve Komphela, Johnson knows how dangerous they can be in knockout competitions.
“Chiefs are never a weak team. They have a good coach. [But] we have prepared well. Our boys look in excellent condition and they are ready.
“My players have played in the final of this competition twice. They know what it feels like to win it and what it feels like to lose. We want to go for it.”
Amakhosi need their key men to step up and get them through to the next round of the competition.