/ 13 May 2011

Minnows keen to take on big fish

Minnows Keen To Take On Big Fish

Baroka Football Club are still on course to make their dream come true — meeting Orlando Pirates in the final of the cup — even though they still have to negotiate their way past the Black Leopards in the semifinals at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday.

Such is their confidence in seeing off the Leopards that they are praying that Pirates will honour their side of the bargain by overcoming Mpumalanga Black Aces in the other semifinal at Orlando Stadium on Saturday to make Baroka’s dream a reality.

Their coach, Sello Chokoe, with his trademark black glove, fired a broadside at the Leopards, claiming the Premier Soccer League’s disciplinary committee’s decision to dock the Thohoyandou side three points for fielding an improperly registered player has seriously affected the Leopards — which should make them easy game for Baroka.

“The decision of the DC [disciplinary committee] to dock them points has seriously thrown them off their stride,” said Chokoe. “I saw them at the media briefing this week and their body language said it all. They have seen their whole year’s hard work going down the drain with that simple act, which means they cannot qualify for promotional playoffs.

“That can be very hard to accept and, unless their appeal is successful, they have to go back and toil for yet another season in the national first division [NFD]. It is playing very heavily on their minds, while, on the other hand, we have qualified for the Vodacom playoffs and confidence has never been higher in the team.”

Baroka has caused a tremor in the local league, eliminating premiership side Moroka Swallows and proving that the victory was no fluke when they followed it up with victory over South African cup specialists Kaizer Chiefs in the previous round of the Nedbank Cup.

“Our major objective is to qualify for promotion to the NFD,” said Chokoe. “But the R6-million cash prize in the Nedbank Cup has been quite an incentive. The players already know how much they will be sharing if they go on and win the cup.”

An incredible irony here is that Pirates coach Ruud Krol could achieve an elusive treble by winning both the premiership and the Nedbank Cup to add to the MTN8 trophy that he won at the start of the season – and then find himself jobless at the end of June.

Krol has, for the first time, confirmed that his contract with Pirates has not been extended and there have been reports that he has even applied for jobs in faraway places like India.
But for now his focus is on the Black Aces on Saturday. As a consummate professional he will want to take every­thing one step at a time and see out his contract in style.

Should Pirates beat Aces he will see which way the cards fall — and whichever team his side meets on May 28, he will cross that bridge when he reaches it.

Although club captain Lucky Lekgwathi has strongly urged the management to consider offering Krol, the former Dutch national captain, an extension to his contract, it does not seem likely to happen as Pirates are reportedly already hunting for a new coach.

Yet Pirates supporters must be wondering whether the club will still go ahead with these plans if, by some stroke of luck, Krol and Pirates go on to eclipse Ajax Cape Town for the league championship next week and wrap up the season with victory in the Nedbank Cup as well to complete a historic treble.