Minnows still in with sniff at title

All eyes will be on Morgan Gould (left) and Yeye Letsholonyane (centre) who left Amakhosi for Matsatsantsa. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo

All eyes will be on Morgan Gould (left) and Yeye Letsholonyane (centre) who left Amakhosi for Matsatsantsa. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo

Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret called on his troops to lift their game against a troubled Bloemfontein Celtic side — which seems to derive pleasure from embarrassing the famed Buccaneers — ahead of their Nedbank Cup tie at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.

While this year’s competition has quickly lost its status as a cup of dreams with fairy-tale upsets by so-called small clubs, only Jomo Cosmos of the lower division teams remain in the last eight. They will visit a resolute Chippa United at the Buffalo City Stadium this weekend.

“I will not put my players under pressure,” said club owner Jomo Sono, whose team pulled off a sensational upset when they ejected title-chasing Bidvest Wits in the previous round.

“I told them to go out there against Chippa and enjoy themselves,” added the man known as Mjomana.

Pirates have been able to dominate their opponents with remarkable ease but have always found it a bridge too far against Celtic who, even when they seem down and out, somehow manage to rise to the occasion against the Soweto side.

It is for this reason that Jonevret has urged his team to work hard but also to try to enjoy themselves, albeit in a disciplined manner. He is mindful that although there are visible signs of a recovery, particularly in defence, the players are still prone to falling asleep at crucial moments.

“The team is beginning to gel,” said Jonevret with a hint of satisfaction. “But there is still a long way to go and more hard work lies ahead of us. I am, however, happy that we are beginning to play with more confidence. We are laying a solid foundation and the players have been fantastic during the last couple of weeks.”

Celtic, on the other hand, were dealt a debilitating blow when the Premier Soccer League’s dispute resolution chamber ordered newly appointed coach Luc Eymael to return to Polokwane City. He had resigned from the club after claiming the situation there was untenable. He plans to appeal the decision.

“I am not going back to Polokwane,” said a defiant Eymael. “I cannot go to a place where my life is threatened and I am no longer comfortable with my working conditions, where there is simply too much interference in my job.”

Caretaker coaches Lehlohonolo Seema and John Maduka will prepare Celtic for the Pirates clash.

But the match of the week will play out at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium, where two adversaries — Steve Komphela and Stuart Baxter — will prowl the touchline. The game between Chiefs and SuperSport United is evenly balanced, even though the home side have a slight advantage by virtue of being unbeaten in their last 14 matches.

But the spotlight will be focused on the six players that defected from Chiefs to make Tshwane their home.

Goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse, as well as Morgan Gould, Tefu Mashamaite, Yeye Letsholonyane, Mandla Masango and Kingston Nkhatha, may want to prove a point against their former employer. 

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