Bucs out to spoil Super Baxter exit
The Nedbank Cup final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban between Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United on Saturday could end a nightmare or start a dream.
The Buccaneers go into this match in search of some joy from a disastrous season while Matsatsantsa a Pitori want to be the first team to retain the trophy in its current name - giving coach Stuart Baxter a good send-off and laying a solid foundation for Eric Tinkler.
This clash will test Pirates' porous defence against SuperSport's strong attack.
That attack drowned the Buccaneers on a rainy night in Mbombela last year in a 6-1 drubbing. That result pushed Muhsin Ertugral to resign on national TV. The Buccaneers' nightmare was in full flight.
At the heart of the club's struggle is their lack of a first-choice goalkeeper. The No1 jersey has been worn by Jackson Mabokgwane, Brighton Mhlongo, Siyabonga Mpontshane and Felipe Ovono with none consistently solid, putting the club in a goalkeeping crisis."There is no crisis," Mabokgwane said. "There isn't a question of ability. We have very good goalkeepers in the club. The problem is that there is too much rotation, which creates the illusion of a crisis because you end up looking like you don't know what you're doing.
"You need to have a first-choice goalkeeper that you back even if he goes through a bad patch. If you give someone four or five games to prove themselves, they make a mistake and then you drop them, things won't change.
"The next person will get the same treatment and he will also make a mistake and you repeat the cycle. Having a first choice that you back is not only good for that person but the club because there is consistency.
"I'm not saying you shouldn't replace a player who isn't playing well, but you need more than four or five games to judge a goalkeeper."
Mabokgwane started the season as the second choice, held the No1 jersey for a few matches before he was relegated to the stands and fought his way back into the starting XI.
"I am a very strong person," Mabokgwane said. "I believe in my own ability. I know that I am a fantastic goalkeeper. But football has stages. You go through good and bad times.
"The key is how you bounce back from the bad times and how you don't get carried away by the good times. I have learned at Pirates that having a couple of good games isn't enough. You have to be consistent throughout."
SuperSport's attack has been consistent with Thabo Mnyamane at the heart of that rampant display in front of goal.The 24-year-old reached double digits with his goals tally for the first time in his career, in only his first season with Matsatsantsa. There is a strong belief in the SuperSport camp that this - reaching the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup, going on a 19-match unbeaten run in the league and appearing in their second final this season - is just the beginning of something big.
"I believe that personally and as a team, we could have done more this season," Mnyamane said.
"I can challenge for the Golden Boot next season and as a team we can challenge for the league and at least one cup. We have lost one final this season, we need to make sure that we win this one."
The man responsible for that loss in the Telkom Knockout final, Tinkler, will take over at SuperSport next month.