Orlando Pirates coach Julio Leal is confident his team can lift the elusive Telkom Knockout title this season as they gear up for their last 16 clash against Black Leopards at Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening.
The cup competition contested by South Africa’s Premier League outfits was the only trophy that eluded the Buccaneers last season under former coach Ruud Krol.
Pirates finished as runners-up to eventual winners Kaizer Chiefs, losing 3-0 in the final.
“This is the one trophy the club missed out on last season and we are preparing ourselves to win this year’s competition,” Leal said on Wednesday.
“We have the experience and the capacity to succeed and we know about Leopards because we played them at the beginning of the season.”
Pirates retained the MTN8 title in August, but have not had the best of starts to their league campaign, scoring just six goals after eight rounds of matches.
“The pressure of not scoring is there,” Leal admitted.
“It’s good that we have defenders and midfielders capable of scoring as it is the norm in modern football, but we are working every day with the strikers on the scoring aspects … We have identified what our problem is but I don’t want to comment about it now because its part of our preparation.”
The absence of talisman winger Tlou Segolela, who has struggled with injury this season, has undoubtedly contributed to the goal drought.
Segolela has recovered from a knee ailment that kept him out of the side’s last three games and the pacy Bafana Bafana player, who trained with the team this week, looks likely to feature against Leopards.
“He’s fine but we will have to treat him very carefully,” Leal said.
“I think that we have also been missing him a lot in the capacity of helping us score goals.”
While goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs and striker Thulasizwe Mbuyane were not a part of Wednesday’s training session, Leal expected the duo to be fit for this weekend’s fixture.
“Moeneeb was training yesterday and felt a back pain and I’m sure he will be available even if he has to miss one or two more training sessions for him to recover,” Leal said.
“Today, Mbuyane said he was sick and we sent the doctor to his home to see what it is … We have no idea as yet and will have an idea from Thursday, but we will hope his absence will just be for the day.” — Sapa