Orlando Pirates skipper Lucky Lekgwathi wore a big smile on Thursday after their tough away draw of SuperSport United for the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout.
“Sure it’s a tough draw, but we are not complaining. We have a new-found confidence and self-belief in ourselves after we won the MTN8 trophy and need to continue form where we left off from in that competition,” he said.
“The experience of winning a big cup competition will help drive us into another final.”
Lekgwathi said that the Buccaneers have targeted winning at least one more piece of silverware this season after a 10-year drought during which Bucs failed to win any knockout competitions.
“Winning the MNT8 was a major breakthrough for Pirates. It showed we are back on track and have the ability to go all the way and win trophies,” he said.
“SuperSport were once the cup specialists and have won the premiership three times in a row, so they are formidable opponents, but we are not afraid playing them away.”
SuperSport defender Morgan Gould, who is recovering from injury and is set to make a return to the side in a league match against Kaizer Chiefs at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday, said his side would treat Pirates like any other side.
“This will be like any other game, but it is going to be a difficult cup tie as Pirates are playing well this season, having brought in some quality players that helped them win the MTN8,” he said.
“But, we will be ready. The fact we have a lot of injuries is no excuse as we have players in depth and a decent squad.
“We still aim to defend our league title and try to win a cup competition, and the players believe they can achieve our goals this season.”
The other big guns left in the competition all avoided each other.
Defending champions Kaizer Chiefs will meet Free State Stars at home, Mamelodi Sundowns travel to Pietermaritzburg where they face Maritzburg United, and in the other quarterfinal dark horses Mpumalanga Black Aces play Santos in Cape Town.
The matches will be played next weekend. The PSL will announce dates and venues on Friday.
Chiefs star midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane said the fact that Amakhosi’s deadly Soweto rivals, Pirates, had won the MTN8 earlier this month had not put Chiefs under pressure to retain the Knockout trophy.
“There is no pressure on any of us to win just because Pirates won a cup. We worry about Chiefs and not Pirates. We are confident we can get to the final.”
While warning that they could not take Stars for granted, he said playing at home in front of their own fans would be a boost for them.
Stars shocked Ajax Cape Town 1-0 in their first-round clash at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night and showed they are no pushovers.
The win over Ajax has lifted morale in the camp, according to Stars keeper Kennedy Mweene.
“Nobody expected us to beat Ajax in their own backyard, but we made it and that win has lifted the mood and spirit in the camp. Anything is possible against Chiefs in the Cup.”
Playing away does not faze the Zambian international.
“I prefer to play Chiefs away as the vibe is better from their fans and that also boosts the players’ performances playing in front of a big crowd, so we are happy with the way the draw turned out.”
Aces could be the surprise side in the competition. They thumped Moroka Swallows 3-1 in the first-round clash played at Dobsonville on Wednesday night, which stretched their unbeaten run under new coach Neil Tovey to three matches since he took charge.
Tovey has done a tremendous job in rejuvenating Aces and he will be quietly confident of unsettling the underperforming Santos at home.
Santos were lucky to beat BidVest Wits 1-0 at Milpark in the last round and need to up their game if they are to progress against a side that has a new lease on life under Tovey. — Sapa