Bucs expect tough battle in MTN8 final

Orlando Pirates coach Ruud Krol believes his side are heading for a tough match when Bucs tackle Moroka Swallows in the MTN8 final at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night.

Kick-off is at 8.15pm.

Krol is keeping his feet on the ground and not getting carried away after the Buccaneers deservedly defeated traditional arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 to reach the final 2-1 on aggregate in a hard-fought Soweto derby semifinal second leg played at the FNB Stadium on Sunday.

The Birds defeated favourites Ajax Cape Town 3-2 in their semifinal second-leg encounter at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday, to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate after neither side managed to score in the first leg, played in Cape Town.

“I watched Swallows beat Ajax and they are a useful team who seem to be improving. I was impressed when they led 2-0, but then they got a bit sloppy and allowed Ajax to level,” said Krol. “But they showed great fighting spirit to win and get to the final. It is going to be a tough battle, but one we are all looking forward to.”

Bucs have not won a knockout competition since their Top Eight Cup triumph in 2000.

Krol praised his players for the aggressive way they tore into Chiefs in front of 70 000 fans.

“We planned and prepared well. We knew that, having conceded a goal at home in the first leg that ended 1-1, we had to go on the offensive.

“All credit to my players who kept Chiefs under pressure and were rewarded with a place in the final. It is a big day for the players, the fans and the club.”

But Krol admitted he suffered a nerve-racking last eight minutes — four of normal time and the other four minutes of referee Jerome Damon’s optional time — after Rooi Mahamutsa blasted an 86th minute penalty over the crossbar. Pirates were leading through a Katlego Mashego goal at that stage.

“We should have wrapped up the game with the penalty and made it 2-0, but it was one of those things — players miss penalties all the time.

“Mahamutsa is our regular penalty taker and is usually reliable, but this time he wasted it. In the end, however, it did not matter, but it made the last minutes very long and tense.”

‘Pirates were the better side’
Amakhosi coach Vladimir Vermezovic was first to congratulate Krol and Pirates in getting to the final, but he did not mince his words in describing his players’ poor showing and said they did not deserve to play in the final.

He said he would be investigating what went wrong: “Pirates were the better side and deserved to go to the final, while we did not deserve to advance.

“On our display we got what we deserved — nothing. I am at a loss to explain why we played so badly. I will be speaking to the players on Monday, but we did not turn up and perform.

“We knew Pirates would be aggressive and we failed to match them. We could not string two or three passes together.”

The former Yugoslavian international defender admitted that so bad were Chiefs, he could have made eight substitutions.

“Unfortunately I could only make three but up to eight players did not perform.”

Krol dropped the now controversial Teko Modise completely from his squad. Modise watched from the stands and on current form he is not likely to get a start against The Birds in Durban.

The midfielder’s star is waning badly and he was booed by his own fans after the first leg two weeks ago.

Explained Krol: “I needed to protect Teko, but I still believe in him and he will bounce back and play a role for Pirates this season — of that I am sure.”

Tickets for the final go on sale on Monday at all Computicket/Shoprite outlets. The prices are R60, R40 and R10 for juveniles. — Sapa

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