Orlando Pirates have learned from the mistakes of the past and are not prepared to get carried away with their surge to form in both the Absa Premiership race and Nedbank Cup — and there is no thought of winning the double at this stage from coach Ruud Krol.
Pirates spokesperson, Mickey Modisane, remembers the bitter disappointment of 2003 when Bucs were in pole position to win the league and were in the Absa Cup final against old foes Kaizer Chiefs. Former coach Kosta Papic had raised fans’ expectations sky high, but Bucs ”ended up with nothing that season”, said Modisane.
”We also were beaten by Ajax Cape Town in the Telkom Knockout final in December, so we are not even thinking past our next match against Thanda Royal Zulu in Durban on Saturday.
”We were devastated in 2003 and although we have hit a rich vein of form at the right time, we are not letting it go to our heads,” said Modisane.
Bucs travel to DurbanÂ´s Absa Stadium to play relegation haunted TRZ on Saturday (3.30pm) and a win would see Bucs reduce leaders SuperSport UnitedÂ´s lead at the top of the table to three points.
Krol is looking for consistency and for the players to continue from their two major cup and league wins at Ellis Park last week. Last Wednesday a 10-man Bucs defeated fellow title hopefuls Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 and last weekend thumped SuperSport by the same score in the first round of the Nedbank Cup.
But stressed Modisane: ”The double is not even talked about. The coach is focused on beating Thanda which is not going to be easy as they are fighting for survival.”
Of Bucs’ seven remaining league fixtures, five area way and that includes matches against SuperSport and Kaizer Chiefs.
Modisane is banking on Pirates fans filling up the Absa Stadium.
”Our loyal fans in Durban have always been solidly behind us and we appeal to them to pack the stadium to the rafters and help us get another three valuable points.”
Krol also realises that underestimating relegation threatened TRZ would be fatal and he will not allow complacency to creep into the squad.
Said Modisane: ”We know a side playing for their PSL lives are dangerous and Thanda will come hard at us. They badly need the points and they know beating us would see their relegation fears end and we are not going to let that happen. We cannot show them sympathy or any mercy. The league title is hotting up and we know that by beating Thanda is going to put extra pressure on SuperSport.”
SuperSport play Kampala City Council in an African Champions League fixture in the Ugandan capital on Friday. Bucs’ only non starter is suspended defender Lucky Lekgwathi who ends his two match suspension after the TRZ match.
Rooi Mahamutsa replaced Lekgwathi against United and is set to retain his place, as is Mlungisi Gumbi who replaced Malawian midfielder, Josephy Kamwendo. But the key players will be right wing Dikgang Mabalane, midfield magician Teko Modise and striker Siphelele Mthembu.
TRZ have plenty of experience, but they also have seven games left and will have to play it tight and make sure they close down Modise and Mabalane, otherwise they could be in for a hammering.
Another relegation threatened club, Maritzburg United, will have a win at all costs policy when they play Santos at the Woodburn Stadium (3.30pm) and in SaturdayÂ´s other fixture, Chiefs host BidVest Wits at the Super Stadium (8pm).
On Sunday Bloemfontein Celtic, who are lying second bottom, play Golden Arrows at the Griffons Rugby Stadium in Welkom and at Olen Park, Potchefstroom, Platinum Stars entertain Golden Arrows. Both kick-off at 3.30pm. — Sapa