Bring it on, say Bucs

23 August 2013 - 02:20
By Mazola Molefe
Coach Roger de Sa insists that Orlando Pirates devote as much attention to winning at home as abroad
Image: LEFTY SHIVAMBU/GALLO IMAGES Coach Roger de Sa insists that Orlando Pirates devote as much attention to winning at home as abroad

The clash between Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday has again been postponed, with a new date to be set by the Premier Soccer League when it finds a gap in the fixture schedule.

The Buccaneers are not particularly perturbed, said assistant coach Teboho Moloi, even though they will have to play catch-up in the title race because of Caf Champions League commitments.

PSL clubs have so far played just one match this season.

Moloi believes that Pirates boast enough depth and talent in their squad to overcome an inevitably tight schedule.

The Buccaneers found themselves in a similar predicament during the last campaign, having to defend their Absa Premiership title while honouring numerous Caf Champions League commitments. They eventually lost the league trophy to Kaizer Chiefs.

"It was unfortunate that last season we played catch-up using players that we had just signed," Moloi said on Wednesday.

"They were still being introduced to the way we play and it took time, but we had to win games to catch up. We also struggled with injuries [Rooi Mahamutsa, Siyabonga Sangweni and Benni McCarthy were notable absentees] during the season and that affected us.

"Look at the embarrassing defeats against second-division Maluti FET, Chippa United, Maritzburg United and Sundowns. Those were all crucial matches we lost because we threw players in at the deep end."

Despite the injuries and many players' inexperience, he said, Pirates still managed to proceed to the group stages of the Caf Champions League.

Those players, he suggested, had now earned their wings.

The Pirates' fixture list over the coming months shows several bumper-to-bumper matches .

For example, they take on Chiefs in the MTN 8 semifinal first leg game at Soccer City tomorrow, before travelling to Egypt to face Zamalek, and then the Congo, for the game against AC Leopards in the continental competition next month.

While Pirates roam Africa, it will be business as usual in the Premier League. They will only play once in the league next month.

Moloi believes that the new players will only grow stronger as they gain experience.

"The more matches we are involved in, the better as far as the players are concerned, because suddenly everyone is positive about getting a chance to play.

"Plus we have a big and balanced squad to select from. The only challenge is how to handle the pressure when you are catching up and chasing Chiefs or Sundowns."

Moloi also admitted that the only way Pirates could be on the back foot when the games pile up is if they play the way they did in the 1-0 defeat to AmaZulu in their league opener at home.

For now, Bucs' attention is firmly on tomorrow's Soweto derby.

Platinum Stars host Wits at Royal Bafokeng on Sunday in the first leg of the other semifinal.