Vasco wary of wounded Santos

What a difference two seasons can make: 15 months ago Santos and Vasco da Gama were competing in an Absa premiership Cape derby, this time around they go head to head in the NFD.

The match, between two of the elder and more established clubs in Cape football (Vasco were formed in 1980, Santos in 1982), takes place at the Athlone Stadium on Saturday and kicks off at 18H00.

In the 2010/ 2011 campaign, in which Vasco were relegated, spoils were shared as the Peoples’ Team won the first round affair 1-0, while Vasco triumphed 3-0 in a match at the end of the season.

Vasco midfielder Robbie Santo, a player that has risen up through the club’s youth ranks, was part of the action on both those occasions, and hopes for a repeat of the most recent encounter.

“Hopefully we can continue where we left off!” he told PSL.co.za. “Local derbies are always tough, real battles, because pride is at stake.

“We know what Santos will be thinking, because last season we were in the same position; having been relegated, you want to start the season strongly and bounce back.

“Santos have a lot of players that we need to watch out for, and on top of that, they have a few ex-Vasco players, like Gregory Roelf (who was on loan at the Parow side last season), and Jonathan Armogam, so that will add something extra. But at the end of the day it’s about whoever wants it most,” Santo added.

The industrious central midfielder, whose appetite for the game will be vital in a heated derby, will have extra responsibility as he looks to help the club fill the gap created by the departure of Keenin Lesch to Milano United.

“They are big shoes to fill. Keenin was a great player, a good friend, and the captain of the side. But these things happen in football and its up to me and the other players in that position to use the opportunity,” he said.

Santos meanwhile are determined to get off to a winning start as they look to push for a quick promotion back to the PSL.

Winger Jonathan Armogam will be coming up against his former team; Armogam in fact having played for Vasco in the 3-0 win for the Parow side over Santos in May of 2011.

That result however will count for nothing - Armogam saying the topic has not come up in training this week.

“Thanks for reminding me!” he joked. “No, previous results will not mean anything when we go onto the park on Saturday, we’ve forgotten about that. And Santos have about 15 new players since then, and I think Vasco do as well.

“It will be all about the day, which team shows the commitment and the hunger to win. The two sets of players know each other well and this will make for a tough local derby, we’re looking forward to kicking off our campaign,” he told PSL.co.za.

In other Cape NFD action, FC Cape Town host Thanda Royal Zulu at the NNK Rugby Stadium. Another Cape team, newly promoted Milano FC, start with a tricky away trip to Blackburn Rovers.

The weekend fixture list is as follows :

Saturday, September 15, 2012

15:00 FC Cape Town v Thanda Royal Zulu FC NNK Rugby Stadium

15:00 Roses United v Witbank Spurs Botshabelo Stadium

15:00 African Warriors v Jomo Cosmos Charles Mopeli Stadium

15:00 Sivutsa Stars v Black Aces Kanyamazane Stedium

18:00 Blackburn Rovers v Milano United AFC Buffalo City Stadium

18:00 Santos v Vasco Da Gama Athlone Stadium