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Platinum Stars may have taken many by surprise by spending the better part of this season in the championship zone.

Dikwena are in the top three on the Absa Premiership standings at the moment but one man is not surprised. Dikwena defender Isaac Nhlapo tells that he expected Cavin Johnson’s men to challenge for silverware this season.

“I have been expecting the team to do so well because in pre-season we worked really hard. I expected us to be third and also competing for the league. There’s progress. We have been working hard even from last season. You can see that things are going well,” said Nhlapo.

Nhlapo wants to see Dikwena finishing higher on the Absa Premiership table so that the Rustenburg based club can compete in the next edition of the CAF Champions League, where he feels players would be armed with massive wealth of experience.

“I would like to see us play in Africa. We need to finish second so that we can do that. It will make me happy to see me and the guys playing in Africa. If we get the experience of playing in Africa, we will be very strong in the PSL,” said the man from Witbank.

Stars have tough fixtures in their next five matches against Chippa United, Bloemfontein Celtic, Mamelodi Sundowns, Free State Stars and Orlando Pirates. Nhlapo and his teammates have to be at their best since teams will be raising their games in order to avoid relegation, make the top eight or win the championship. Nhlapo says Dikwena will do their best to get maximum points out of their fixtures.

“All the games that remain, there’s no easy game. All the games are going to be difficult but we are going to work hard to make sure that we win all the games,” said the centreback.

Dikwena’s immediate challenge is what is expected to be a tough encounter against Chippa United, whom they meet at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth this Wednesday night. Stars will want to better their record following not so great results in their last three encounters, where they lost, drew and lost. Nhlapo says Johnson’s men want to put their recent disappointments behind and focus on amassing all the three points against Dan Malesela’s side.

“We have prepared very well for the game against Chippa. I am confident that we will win. They like to keep the ball and they are going to come at us. We have to press them,” said the 25-year-old.

Nhlapo, who has been a regular feature in Stars’ heart of defence, has had a great season. He attributes his good performances to hard work.

“I am satisfied compared to last season. Last season I only played one game but this season I have played in almost all the games so I am happy. The fact that I have played so many games shows that I work so hard. The competition is very tough. When we train, everyone is determined. They want to play,” said Nhlapo.

Nhlapo is a part of a defensive quartet comprising himself, Vuyo Mere, Siyabonga Zulu and Gift Sithole that has stood out this season. Nhlapo says their understanding starts at training.

“As defenders in the team, we all work very hard. Even in training we understand each other as to how each one plays. When we get to the pitch it becomes simple because we know each other. The understanding is there so it doesn’t matter who is playing,” said Nhlapo, who also attributed Dikwena’s sterling displays to the supporters.

“We appreciate our supporters because this season they have come out in numbers. They have helped us a lot. They lifted us. Where we are today is because of them. Their support has been great,” said Nhlapo.

Dikwena’s clash against Chippa kicks off at 7.30pm.

Posted: 27-04-2016
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