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OR L A N D O Pi­rates’ aw­ful 2016/17 sea­son was slowly mak­ing its way into the archives when that painful process was halted yes­ter­day.

Hang on, the Buc­ca­neers were told, ex­plain your­selves.

The play­ers had been en­joy­ing some tran­quil­lity away from the pry­ing eyes of the press since late last month, when they faced Golden Ar­rows in the Absa Premier­ship be­fore es­cap­ing the neg­a­tiv­ity that comes with fin­ish­ing out­side the top eight for the first time in the Pre­mier League era and, with Satur­day’s Ned­bank Cup fi­nal pend­ing, with­out any sil­ver­ware to show for their ef­forts, or lack thereof.

This week, how­ever, in the build-up to tak­ing on Su­perS­port United in what is a re­peat of last year’s fix­ture at this stage of the tour­na­ment, cap­tain Oupa Many­isa and his team­mates had to en­dure and re­live their dis­ap­point­ment.

“We know Satur­day is a must win,” said the soft-spo­ken skip­per about the match at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in Dur­ban.

“I think we are un­der pres­sure to ap­pease the fans be­cause how we fin­ished the sea­son was very dis­ap­point­ing. We know what went wrong, and what is im­por­tant is for us to rec­tify those mis­takes in the fi­nal.”

Although a new sea­son nat­u­rally brings with it much hope and great ex­pec­ta­tion, es­pe­cially for a club like Pi­rates, the gen­eral feel­ing is that the Buc­ca­neers will be­gin the 2017/18 cam­paign se­ri­ously on the back foot should they not beat Su­perS­port, who thrashed them 3-1 in Polok­wane a lit­tle over a year ago in the pre­vi­ous edition of the Ned­bank Cup fi­nal.

That there is no par­tic­i­pa­tion in the MTN8 in the early weeks of the up­com­ing sea­son al­ready elim­i­nates one tro­phy from the four that are al­ways avail­able in the do­mes­tic league. It al­ready feels like a kick in the teeth for Many­isa.

“It’s not a nice feel­ing,” he said. That’s an un­der­state­ment.

Marc Van Heer­den, the left­back who ar­rived from Chippa United in Jan­uary when things had al­ready gone pear-shaped, prob­a­bly ar­tic­u­lated the need to put be­hind them a dis­as­ter of a cam­paign bet­ter.

It seemed fit­ting, given that the Buc­ca­neers were thrashed 6-0 by Mamelodi Sun­downs when he made his de­but in Fe­bru­ary.

“I think we all want some dig­nity back,” said Van Heer­den,

“When you sign for such a big club you get a lot of feel­ings of joy and ful­fil­ment and all that. But when you walk on the streets and sup­port­ers see you and say neg­a­tive things, it’s hard to jug­gle those emo­tions as well.

“I think the cap­tain has al­ready said it that we don’t need mo­ti­va­tion for the cup fi­nal be­cause we are well aware we have to win it. We went away to have our minds and bod­ies re-en­er­gised and that was im­por­tant.

“Now it is all about rec­ti­fy­ing those mis­takes.”

Su­perS­port, mean­while, have been play­ing non-stop in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup while their coun­ter­parts were tak­ing stock. Are they on the front foot? “Not at all,” ar­gued Van Heer­den.

“Ob­vi­ously, not play­ing top qual­ity op­po­si­tion dur­ing that time takes some­thing away from us, but your match fit­ness can’t be ques­tioned. We have played two friendly matches and ev­ery sin­gle player got to play 90 min­utes.

“I think on the day it will de­pend who is hun­grier.

“I hope that’s us.”

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