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