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Reports & Previews

Free State Stars v Bidvest Wits

Free State stars face an uphill battle in ending a three-match losing streak when they welcome table-topping Bidvest Wits to Goble Park on Saturday.

Ea Lla Koto currently find themselves just one point above the relegation zone after suffering their third straight defeat against Orlando Pirates last month.

Having now gone five matches without a win, and with just 11 points claimed from eight home matches this season, coach Nikola Kavazovic knows they will need to show dramatic improvement in the new year or risk going down.

Unfortunately, they have their work cut out for them against high-flying Wits on Saturday.

Under manager Gavin Hunt, the Clever Boys have been in stellar form this season, with their most recent 2-0 home win over Chippa United putting them three points clear at the top of the table. They've also been a force to reckon with away from home, claiming 17 points from seven matches so far.

It may have taken Wits 96 years to clinch their first title, but they now find themselves on course for another crown just two years later.

And unlike their rivals at the top of the table, the Johannesburg outfit also don't need to worry about any African commitments and can focus fully on the Absa Premiership.

Wits and Stars have been squaring off against one another for over 30 years, contesting 56 league matches since 1986, with their head-to-head rivalry fairly evenly matched. The Clever Boys have claimed 19 wins compared to 16 for Ea Lla Koto, while 21 matches have ended in a draw.

Wits look to have the upper hand heading into this weekend's match, however, having beaten Stars 3-0 when they met earlier this season.

The league leaders will once again look to national squad defenders Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Sifiso Hlanti, along with goalkeeper Darren Keet, to keep things tight at the back. The Bafana quartet have let in just nine goals so far this term.

Up front, their Scottish striker Simon Murray has been a welcome addition to the side, slotting in four goals since joining the club at the start of the season.

Stars, meanwhile, will have to do without Nhlanhla Vilakazi and Patrick Phungwayo, both of whom are suspended for the clash.