Su­perS­port stand in way of Pi­rates reach­ing third cup fi­nal of sea­son

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - JONTY MARK

ROGER De Sa be­lieves Or­lando Pi­rates’ na­tional play­ers re­ceived the per­fect tonic af­ter their CAF Cham­pi­ons League de­feat, when they helped South Africa de­feat world cham­pi­ons Spain in mid­week.

Thabo Mat­laba, Andile Jali and Oupa Many­isa played star­ring roles in the vic­tory over Spain, while Ker­mit Eras­mus and Senzo Meyiwa were also part of the squad, with De Sa watch­ing from the stands.

And the Pi­rates coach said his play­ers re­turned to train­ing with a spring in their step, ahead of to­day’s Telkom Knock­out semi- fi­nal against Su­perS­port United.

“It was fan­tas­tic to see Senzo walk­ing into train­ing wear­ing his ‘Casil­las’ jersey,” said De Sa.

“He was proud, he (Casil­las) is his hero. I was at the sta­dium and I thor­oughly en­joyed it (the match). It was nice to see a good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Pi­rates play­ers.

“It has been a while since all those three have started (for Bafana) and against a good team like Spain I was happy with all their per­for­mances.

“Ev­ery time one of them goes down (in­jured) you hold your breath but all came through, and I think it has done won­ders for their con­fi­dence, es­pe­cially af­ter los­ing the CAF fi­nal. To go and beat Spain a cou­ple of days later is the best thing that could have hap­pened, I hope they can carry that con­fi­dence through to into the PSL and Telkom Knock­out.”

Their in­volve­ment in the Cham­pi­ons League means that to­day’s game with Su­perS­port will be Pi­rates’ first do­mes­tic fix­ture since the game against Kaizer Chiefs on Oc­to­ber 26.

Pi­rates face a se­ri­ous fix­ture back­log to make up, with only three league games played so far. De Sa, how­ever, is con­fi­dent his squad is up to the task.

“We have been play­ing ev­ery third day al­ready, so we just have to con­tinue with that,” he said.

“I think we have played 19 matches in three months, so we have to con­tinue. The play­ers have adapted re­ally well, we are ex­pect­ing (many) matches and we have to be ready… it will be a tough chal­lenge, but we are up for it.”

Pi­rates, as De Sa also noted, have in some sense been a vic­tim of their own suc­cess, with their African adventures com­bined with their ex­cel­lent progress in do­mes­tic cups.

The one fail­ure of Pi­rates’ sea­son so far has been a lack of sil­ver­ware, with the MTN8 lost to Plat­inum Stars, and the Cham­pi­ons League to Al Ahly at the fi­nal hur­dle.

“I think you just men­tioned sil­ver­ware, we are tired of sil­ver – we want gold,” said De Sa.

“We have had two sil­vers in a row. Pi­rates want to win ev­ery­thing, that is nor­mal… but we will have to be at our best to beat Su­perS­port.”

Su­perS­port have been a lit­tle in­con­sis­tent this sea­son, but they did run Pi­rates very close in the MTN8 quar­ter-fi­nal, the Buc­ca­neers win­ning the game on penal­ties af­ter a 2-2 draw.

Su­perS­port coach Cavin John­son said: “The last time we played we were 1-0 up and 21 up, I think we lost con­cen­tra­tion in the last five min­utes of the game, Pi­rates came back to 2-2 and beat us on penal­ties.

“When you play Pi­rates, Chiefs or Sun­downs, the hype within the team is al­ways that much bet­ter. They re­act that much bet­ter tac­ti­cally, we have pre­pared well.

“We are play­ing at Su­per Sta­dium, our home ground and we want to make that a happy hunt­ing ground (for us).”

Pi­rates have the ben­e­fit of a slightly larger squad for do­mes­tic games than they had for the Cham­pi­ons League. One of th­ese “ex­tras” is Ker­mit Eras­mus, the striker who moved from Su­perS­port to Pi­rates this sea­son.

“Ker­mit was dearly missed by us ( in the Cham­pi­ons League),” said De Sa.

“We re­ally felt in many in­stances that we wished we could have had him reg­is­tered. We know what he means to the club and we are glad to have him avail­able from here on in.”

John­son was equally kind to­wards his club’s for­mer player: “Ker­mit was with Su­perS­port since he was 10, it was not easy los­ing him to Pi­rates. He scored a spe­cial goal against Chiefs ( in the derby this sea­son). It showed what he brings to the ta­ble but we know what he does and we will try to nul­lify him… he is a spe­cial player and has a lot to of­fer.”

In to­day’s sec­ond semi-fi­nal, Kaizer Chiefs host Plat­inum Stars at FNB Sta­dium.

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