It’s face-sav­ing time for Pi­rates, egg and all

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­

Can Su­perS­port United beat Kaizer Chiefs and Or­lando Pi­rates in back-to-back matches? Bid­vest Wits have done it this sea­son, and United will want to fol­low suit.

The ques­tion ahead of Satur­day’s Telkom Knock­out semi­fi­nal at Mbombela Sta­dium is not only whether United can beat the two Soweto giants, but rather: Will they em­bar­rass Pi­rates again or will the Buc­ca­neers avenge their de­feat?

Not only will Bucs go back to a venue where they were hu­mil­i­ated three weeks ago, they face their con­quer­ers af­ter an em­bar­rass­ing 6-1 de­feat at Mbombela that sig­nalled the end of Muhsin Er­tuğral’s Pi­rates ca­reer. Bucs are hop­ing the de­feat might just have been a turn­ing point.

They are still smart­ing from that calamity, par­tic­u­larly with the way it went down af­ter their to­tal col­lapse in the sec­ond half. While the Buc­ca­neers’ score­line, per­for­mance and tac­tics were em­bar­rass­ing, they should now be strong enough.

Per­haps they needed that wakeup call – the hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat was Bucs’ first of the sea­son in the league – to bounce back. They now have the chance to avenge that in the Telkom Knock­out tie, with a place in the fi­nal at stake.

United seem to be on a roll af­ter a slug­gish start to the sea­son. Stu­art Bax­ter’s men are on a high, hav­ing been un­beaten in nine matches be­fore yes­ter­day’s league fix­ture against Baroka FC. But United have a sideshow on the way be­fore Satur­day’s big one: a clash against Chiefs on Wed­nes­day evening (see box for mid­week Absa Premier­ship matches).

Bax­ter will re­turn to the FNB Sta­dium for the first time since leav­ing Amakhosi last year, and Reneilwe Let­sholonyane will be up against his for­mer team-mates. Af­ter Er­tuğral, Peru­vian Au­gusto Pala­cios was made care­taker coach. He started on a high note over High­lands Park and will hope he has turned the cor­ner. Bucs have a tricky trip to Chippa United on Tues­day.

The first semi­fi­nal fea­tures Cape Town City and Free State Stars at Cape Town Sta­dium, also on Satur­day.

Kick­off is at 3pm. Bloem­fontein Celtic vs Polok­wane City (Dr Petrus Molemela Sta­dium); High­lands Park vs Golden Ar­rows (Makhu­long Sta­dium)

TUES­DAY: 7.30pm

Plat­inum Stars vs Ajax Cape Town (Royal Bafo­keng Sta­dium); Chippa United vs Or­lando Pi­rates (Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium); Cape Town City vs Mar­itzburg United (Cape Town Sta­dium)

WED­NES­DAY: 7.30pm

Kaizer Chiefs vs Su­perS­port United (FNB Sta­dium); Mamelodi Sun­downs vs Golden Ar­rows (Lof­tus Sta­dium; Bloem­fontein Celtic vs Baroka FC (Dr Petrus Molemela); Bid­vest Wits vs High­lands Park (Bid­vest Sta­dium); Polok­wane City vs Free State Stars (Old Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium)

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