Black Leopards delay arrival


South African side Black Leopards are expected in the country tomorrow ahead of Sundays Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round, second leg encounter against former local champions Motor Action at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday.

Black Leopards, who are also known as Lidoda Duvha, were expected today, but will now jet into the country tomorrow morning, 24 hours before the make-or-break encounter.

The arrival of the Absa Premiership side will also witness the welcome return of striker Kingston Nkhata. Former Warriors defender Zvenyika Makonese was signed after the club submitted their 23 registered players for the competition, meaning he is ineligible to play.

Nkhata didnt feature in the first leg but is likely to be thrown into the deep end on Sunday due not only to his familiarity with local conditions, but also to get the goals for his side.

The Mighty Bulls hold a slight advantage ahead of the crucial match after Godfrey Moyos priceless away goal at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane a fortnight ago helped them hold on to a one-all draw.

Joey Antipas, the Motor Action gaffer, has already declared that his side will be going out for an outright win which will guarantee his side a place in the first round-proper where they could meet FC Lupopo of the DRC.

According to reports from South Africa, in an effort to prepare for the artificial turf at Rufaro Stadium, Black Leopards were this week holding their training session on an artificial surface in Thohoyandou in Limpopo.

While Motor Action are familiar with the artificial turf their opponents coach Vladislav Heric is desperate to give his players as much time as possible to acclimatise to the pitch conditions.

We want to avoid surprises and after we learnt that they use an artificial surface, we decided to give the players as much exposure to this as possible because it is very different to playing on grass. It definitely gives Motor Action an advantage, Heric told MTNFootball yesterday.

The coach admitted that his team is facing a big challenge
I cannot say what the result will be but we will take a positive approach to the game.

It is a proud moment for the players and for myself to be representing South Africa in this competition and we take that very seriously.

Black Leopards are also reportedly facing a defensive crisis ahead of the game.

Malawian international Harry Nyirenda, usually a permanent figure in the Lidoda Duvha backline, is a long-term injury absentee. Veterans Siphiwe Mkhonza and Makonese are ineligible for the tournament which leaves Heric with a hole in the centre-back position.

Swaziland referee Simanga Pritchard Nhleko, 38, who has been on the international scene since 2002, will handle Sundays match.

Nhleko will be assisted by fellow countrymen Petros Mbingo and Isaiah Mkhabela while Dintle Mphele from Botswana will be the match commissioner.