Hot favourites Bucs are wary of Baroka

• Pi­rates urged not to be com­pla­cent and show re­spect to first-time fi­nal­ists from Lim­popo

Business Day - - Front Page - Mahlatse Mphahlele /Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Im­ages

Or­lando Pi­rates mid­fielder Them­binkosi Lorch says Bucs will not un­der­es­ti­mate Baroka FC in the Telkom Knock­out fi­nal at Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium on Satur­day.

Or­lando Them­binkosi Pi­rates Lorch says mid­fielder Bucs will not un­der­es­ti­mate Baroka FC in the Telkom Knock­out fi­nal at Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium on Satur­day. In the eyes of many soc­cer fol­low­ers around the coun­try‚ Pi­rates are the clear favourites to beat Baroka FC and win their first tro­phy in four years. Coach Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vic has al­ready cau­tioned his play­ers against com­pla­cency in the fi­nal in Port El­iz­a­beth.

“Baroka are not in the fi­nal by mis­take‚” Lorch said. “They de­serve re­spect and that’s what we will give them if we are to achieve our dream of lift­ing the tro­phy on Satur­day be­cause we know their play­ers have am­bi­tions to lift their first ti­tle in the club’s his­tory.

“When you look at the teams they de­feated along the way‚ you can see this is a team that has earned its place in the fi­nal and de­serves re­spect.”

The 25-year-old said some of the Pi­rates play­ers are mo­ti­vated by the de­sire to win their first sil­ver­ware in Bucs’ colours.

“A lot of us will be play­ing in our first fi­nal for the club.

“Like our op­po­nents who want to win their first club ti­tle‚a lot of us at Pi­rates also har­bour am­bi­tions of mak­ing a mark at this club. “We want to be a gen­er­a­tion that con­trib­uted to this club ’ s il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer. “It’s been four years since the club and fans have tasted cup suc­cess and we want to give it our all this week­end to end the year on a high.” ● Things have not al­ways been this good at Baroka FC. In the 11 years of Baroka’s ex­is­tence ‚ the vil­lage club from Ga-Mphahlele in Lim­popo went through an emo­tional roller­coaster as they ne­go­ti­ated two pro­mo­tions from the third tier of SA foot­ball un­til they ar­rived in the “promised land” of the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL). Dur­ing their time in the lower di­vi­sions‚ with lim­ited re­sources and lit­tle hope of hit­ting the big time‚ they went through the dis­ap­point­ment of two failed pro­mo­tion bids in the Vo­da­com League and the Na­tional First Divi­sion (NFD), but they were not de­terred. They also sur­vived the rel­e­ga­tion and pro­mo­tion play-offs after they fin­ished sec­ond from the bot­tom in their first sea­son in the top flight. All these chal­lenges are seem­ingly be­hind them and their im­me­di­ate fo­cus is now on Satur­day’s fi­nal. Ac­cord­ing to long-serv­ing team coach Mat­simela mem­ber and Thoka‚ as­sis­tant fea­tur­ing in the is fi­nal a clear against in­di­ca­tion the Buc­ca­neers of how far they have come. Thoka joined the club a year after it was founded by Khur­ishi Mphahlele in 2008 and has worked in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties un­der coaches Mike Ra­p­atsa‚ Sello Chokoe and Kgoloko Thobe­jane. “This club has come a long way and reach­ing our first fi­nal is huge news for the prov­ince‚” he said on Thurs­day. “This jour­ney has been long and frus­trat­ing at times but with the sup­port of our chair­man‚ we sur­vived to reach this point.”

Thoka‚ who is the first as­sis­tant to head coach Wedson Nyirenda and holds a Safa B coach­ing li­cence‚ ad­mit­ted they would have never dreamed of fea­tur­ing in a top-flight cup fi­nal a few years ago. “There are many clubs who have been play­ing in this league for a num­ber of years, but they have never qual­i­fied for a cup fi­nal‚” he said.

“Qual­i­fy­ing to play in this fi­nal must not make us big­headed be­cause we have not won any­thing.”

● At least 70% of the tick­ets to the fi­nal have been sold and PSL of­fi­cials are keep­ing fingers crossed that the re­main­ing 30% will be snapped up ahead of Satur­day’s show­down.

The PSL said on Thurs­day it ex­pects the re­main­ing tick­ets to be bought closer to match day (kick­off is at 6pm). In an ef­fort to push sales‚ the PSL has roped in pop­u­lar hip-hop star Kwesta as part of the en­ter­tain­ment.

Chas­ing sil­ver: Or­lando Pi­rates mid­fielder Them­binkosi Lorch says the Buc­ca­neers will have re­spect for Baroka when they meet in the Telkom Knock­out fi­nal.

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