/ 16 October 2007

Injuries worry Pirates coach

Despite having a battalion of 43 players at his disposal, Orlando Pirates coach Owen da Gama faces a dilemma as his team prepare for a Premier Soccer League game against Bloemfontein Celtic on Friday night.

Pirates captain Lehlohonolo Seema, Lebohang Mokoena, Kelebogile Mabe and Bheki Khumalo could miss Friday’s clash.

”I have to shuffle some players around, especially in defence,” he said. ”It [the injuries] could not come at a worse time, as this game is important to us. It is my first league game with Pirates and we’d like to start on a winning note.”

Celtic top the league table with 13 points, 10 more than Pirates who are rooted to the bottom.

”Celtic are a good team and have made an excellent start to the season,” the former Platinum Stars coach said. ”It’s early days [in the league] but the sooner we get winning, the better.”

Bucs playmaker Teko Modise and winger Bennet Chenene are in Italy with Bafana Bafana, who face the 2006 world champions on Wednesday night. The duo are scheduled to return on Thursday.

”They only get back on Thursday and I don’t know if they’ll be ready for this game,” a visibly stressed Da Gama lamented.

Good news for Bucs supporters is that Ralf Matema and Irvin Mhlambi have returned to training with the first team after lengthy injury lay-offs. — Sapa