Swallows coach eyes chinks in Bucs’ armour

Moroka Swallows coach Rainer Zobel fired the first shots on Tuesday in a psychological war against MTN8 Cup final opponents Orlando Pirates by claiming he had spotted weaknesses in their defence and other departments.

Speaking ahead of Saturday night’s showpiece at Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium, Zobel said he was working on various aspects that could rattle Pirates.

Zobel — whose side are the underdogs in this Soweto Derby — said: “I saw things I can work on. For example there is a weakness in Pirates’ defence, which I saw in their 1-0 win over Chiefs in the semifinal at the weekend, but there are other weaknesses as well, which I am not going to talk about, as that will alert their coach Ruud Krol.

“They will find out what we plan on Saturday night.”

The big worry for Zobel is a hand injury suffered by his captain and key striker Siyabonga Nomvethe, in the 3-2 semifinal win over Ajax Cape Town at the Dobsonville Stadium at the weekend.

The former Bafana Bafana star is a doubtful starter after damaging ligaments in his right hand.

“Nomvethe had an operation on Tuesday morning on his hand and we are hoping he will be able to play on Saturday. I will make a decision on Thursday.”

Zobel said while most pundits played down Swallows’ chances of beating their Soweto big brothers, he believed they were evenly matched.

“Cup finals are special and we will be well prepared. We go to Durban to try and win it.”

The winner will pocket a massive R8-million — the richest prize money not just in South Africa but anywhere on the continent. The loser and the other six teams in the top eight competition will all receive R800 000 appearance fees.

Birds chairperson Leon Prins has promised the players an incentive of R4-million to lift the trophy.

This was confirmed on Tuesday by spokesperson Siya Sangweni. “It is policy that we give players half the prize money. We did that when we won the Nedbank Cup in 2009 where the players received R3-million of the R6-million prize money.”

Zobel stressed however the final was not about money: “The cash is always welcome to players, but this is about the club and writing our names into the South African soccer history books by winning the Cup.

“After three years the money will be gone but our names will live on forever on the trophy and that is what is important. And for a lot of my younger players this will their first Cup final and they are determined to make the most of the experience.”

Zobel, the former Bayern Munich star, is delighted with the venue and described it as the “best stadium in the world”.

“I know what I am talking about when I say this is the best stadium in the world. I have seen stadiums all over the world and this beats everything I have seen.

“We played AmaZulu there two weeks ago [2-2 in a league match] and it was a brilliant venue. It is a better stadium than all those Germany built for the 2006 World Cup.

“It is the prefect venue top play a cup final.”

Zobel also said he agreed with the Premier Soccer League policy of rotating Cup finals at World Cup stadiums.

“We need to utilise those magnificent stadiums by playing big matches such as Cup finals at them.” – Sapa

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