Orlando Pirates, who sailed into third spot in the Absa Premiership standings, at the weekend could be without their midfield talisman Teko Modise when they play BidVest Wits in a local Johannesburg derby at the Milpark Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 3.30pm.
Modise picked up an ankle injury during Bucs’s 1-0 win over Golden Arrows at the Johannesburg Stadium last Saturday night.
But as the Wits match was switched from Wednesday night to a Saturday kick-off at Wits’ request, the move has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the ambitious Buccaneers.
Said Bucs spokesperson Mickey Modisane: ”Modise took a knock on his ankle and that was the reason the coach [Ruud Krol] replaced him in the second half as a precaution. The good news is we have this week to treat his injury and we are keeping fingers crossed he will pass a fitness test later this week.”
Had the match gone ahead as planned on Wednesday night, the chances of Modise playing were slim.
The other good news from the Bucs camp is that tough-as-teak defender Innocent Mdledle is back in training after a long term injury, but he is still a couple of weeks from getting back to full match fitness.
Said Modisane: ”We have been looking a bit shaky at the back and having Mdledle back will strengthen our defence and beef up the squad for what promises to be a tough second round.”
Bucs have loaned defender Tshepiso Tshabalala (23) and midfielder Tlou Segolela (21) to relegation-threatened Bloemfontein Celtic until the end of the season in a bid to give both players more game time.
Said Modisane: ”Celtic needed to bolster their squad as they are fighting relegation, so we decided we could help Celtic and at the same time help both Tshabalala and Segolela get more experience and game time. Both are promising talents and hopefully their loan spell at Celtic will further develop their careers and they will be back stronger and more experienced next season.”
Modisane stressed that while Pirates have climbed to third spot with 26 points after 16 matches and are only four points adrift of leaders Ajax Cape Town, there is no talk in the Bucs camp of winning the league title as this stage.
Said Modisane: ”We all know what happened in the past when we finished second to Mamelodi Sundowns two years ago, and the same thing happened when Chiefs pipped us on goal difference for the title in 2005. We are taking it one game at a time. There is still a long way to go before we are going to talk about winning the title. It is still very early days.”
Modisane said Wits pose a big test, both on and off the field. ”Wits at home are always tough. But my worry is there are only 3 000 tickets available for our fans as the capacity of Milpark is 5 000. We appeal to supporters to buy their tickets and like they did against Arrows, become our 12th man.”
An estimated 20 000 fans watched Bucs beat Arrows.
Wits have again decided to make this an all-ticket affair. Wits do not want to lose home ground advantage and would rather play at Milpark than move to a bigger venue to earn more gate money.
With the backing of their sponsors, Wits are not as hard up anymore and need three points more than gate money. — Sapa