Orlando Pirates will be eager to return to winning ways when they host Stellenbosch FC in a Telkom Knockout round of 16 clash at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 06h00pm CAT.
Pressure continues to mount on the Buccaneers coaching staff as they aim to break their trophy drought and having been bundled out by Highlands Park in the opening round of the MTN8, they will be desperate not to suffer a similar fate at home to the top flight rookies.
Pirates come into the match on the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Cape Town City in their last outing before the recent international break. The Soweto side’s presence seems to be a guarantee of entertainment, with their last three matches producing a total of 16 goals.
The Buccaneers have won the Telkom Knockout just once (2011) and missed out on adding to that tally last year: they reached the final but suffered a penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Baroka FC after the teams drew 2-2 after extra time.
Rhulani Mokwena has been entrusted with ending the Soweto giants trophy drought and the former Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach is aware of the pressure he faces to bring glory back to the famous club.
“I need air to breathe. Pirates need trophies,” Mokwena said at Thursday’s pre-match press conference.
“A club of Orlando Pirates magnitude is a club that needs to be winning trophies. I don’t need the trophies, Pirates need the trophies.
He continued: “We are playing a tough team in Stellenbosch who have a very experienced coach. We are facing a team that is trying to make a name for itself at this level so we we have a lot of work against them.”
Stellenbosch are on a high after securing their first-ever top flight win – 2-0 away to Polokwane City thanks to goals from Waseem Isaacs and Iqraam Rayners – earlier this month. The Cape side has gone unbeaten in their last three matches and will hope to bring that momentum into the TKO.
Stellies will be making their debut appearance in the Telkom Knockout following their promotion to South Africa’s top-flight earlier this year.
“It was tough in the beginning [to the season],” said Stellies boss Steve Barker.
“The pace in the PSL is a lot quicker. We did struggle, but against Polokwane City we started with seven players who were in the National First Division. That was massive for us, and that’s good. They are finding their feet now.”
“Pressure is a league game, so we don’t feel pressured at all for Saturday, this one is freedom. So without giving too much away, it does give us an opportunity to give one or two fringe players an opportunity just to see how they cope at this level.”
ORLANDO PIRATES: STAR PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tshegofatso Mabasa: With four goals in his last three games, Mabasa is the league’s form striker heading into this weekend’s round of TKO fixtures. Having made an immediate impact following his move from Bloemfontein Celtic, pressure will now be on the striker to continue his scoring trend as the likes of Thembinkosi Lorch, Justin Shonga and Vincent Pule are yet to find the scintillating form they showcased last season.
Musa Nyatama: The driving force in the Buccaneers midfield, Nyatama is tasked with not only breaking down opposition attacks, but also getting go forward ball for the dangerous attackers in front of him. With an eye for a pass a knack for goals, he is the midfielder every coach wants in their team.
STELLENBOSCH FC: STAR PLAYERS TO WATCH
Waseem Isaacs: With four goals in his last four games, Isaacs – like Mabasa – heads into this weekend’s fixture in a hot streak of form. In Isaacs and Iqraam Rayners, Stellies have a notable attacking threat with two strikers that won’t stop running for the full 90 minutes or two hours if required.
Robyn Johannes: The centre-back returns to Orlando hoping to help Stellies to a historic first win in Soweto. His experience will be key if Stellies are to cause a major upset and book their place in the next round.© Backpage TXT
SOURCED FROM THE PSL WEBSITE.