Bucs lose two cru­cial men against Za­malek af­ter tough match

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Or­lando Pi­rates will be with­out in­flu­en­tial mid­fielder Than­dani Nt­shu­mayelo for their CAF Cham­pi­ons league match against Za­malek at Or­lando Sta­dium to­day, coach Roger de Sa said.

“He got stamped on his an­kle on the week­end so won’t be play­ing,” the for­mer Wits men­tor said.

Nt­shu­mayelo picked up the in­jury dur­ing his side’s MTN8 cup match against Su­perS­port United on Sun­day, but it was ini­tially thought he would re­cover in time for the fix­ture.

Striker Collins Mbe­suma would also be out for the clash, the coach said, af­ter the Zam­bian in­ter­na­tional sus­tained an an­kle in­jury in the same match.

De Sa’s worst night­mare came to fruition on Sun­day, when the match went to ex­tra time and then penal­ties, leav­ing his troops to en­dure 120 min­utes out on the pitch. It was hardly the light run-in to the top tier match against the Egyp­tian gi­ants his side would have wanted.

The coach, how­ever, was pleased with the way the rest of the squad had re­sponded in train­ing.

“We’ve rested them quite a lot and they should be ready by match day.”

The match would not be any eas­ier than Pi­rates’ away game against Al Ahly, where the Soweto side were the sur­pris­ing 3-0 vic­tors.

“Za­malek are very sim­i­lar to Al Ahly in that they’re a very tough team to play against,” De Sa said.

“They’re very well or­gan­ised, pro- fes­sional, struc­tured and a suc­cess­ful team in Africa.

“I think they’re prob­a­bly bet­ter than Al Ahly and we’ll def­i­nitely have to be at our best once again.”

De Sa said it would be dif­fi­cult to de­liver such a good per­for­mance each time they played against top op­po­si­tion, but his side had no op­tion but to keep mo­ti­vated.

“Play­ing in this type of com­pe­ti­tion you have to be up to it and en­joy it.

“That’s why we play football, to play th­ese kind of matches. You want to play the best, and it’s great to play the best week in, week out.

“Imag­ine Al Ahly, Za­malek, Chiefs, Al Ahly again, Za­malek again, Chiefs again, that’s a hell of a run. It’s some­thing that doesn’t hap­pen too of­ten in a sport­ing ca­reer.”

In stark con­trast to their first cham­pi­ons league match against AC Leop­ards, which was played af­ter the league break in July and ended goal­less at Or­lando Sta­dium, the Buc­ca­neers would be more matchfit on this oc­ca­sion.

“Al­most a month ago, we were play­ing our first com­pet­i­tive game. Now, we’re a lot more run in, and a lot more hard­ened, so hope­fully we’ll be bet­ter.”

It would also be vi­tal for Pi­rates to win their home games in the com­pe­ti­tion and get as many points as pos­si­ble. “We’ve got to try and get to 10 points — that’s very im­por­tant.” — Sapa.

PHOTO: GETTY

David Moyes’s new ca­reer at Manch­ester United is in­dica­tive of a new dawn in the Pre­mier League, which re­sumes this af­ter­noon.

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES

Mid­fielder Than­dani Nt­shu­mayelo has been ruled out of Or­lando Pi­rates’ cru­cial CAF Cham­pi­ons League clash against Za­malek to­day.

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