Cape Times - - SPORT -

OR­LANDO PI­RATES and Baroka FC are des­per­ate to win the Telkom Knock­out for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. The two teams will meet in the fi­nal of the Cup com­pe­ti­tion to­mor­row at Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium. Baroka are search­ing for their maiden tri­umph, while Pi­rates want to end a four-year tro­phy draught. Minenhle Mkhize looks at five points that can help Baroka FC stun Pi­rates.

1. Big match tem­per­a­ment:

Baroka have proven time and time again that they are no push overs. They have risen to the oc­ca­sion against big guns in this com­pe­ti­tion on a con­sis­tent ba­sis. They are one of few teams to have beaten Mamelodi Sun­downs this sea­son. They dumped the Brazil­ians out in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Telkom Knock­out. Bak­gaga claimed an­other big scalp in the semi-fi­nals against de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, Wits. So clearly they won’t be fazed by fac­ing Pi­rates, as they al­ready they know what it is like to come up against a big team. They will need that spirit against Pi­rates.

2. Abil­ity to keep it tight at the back:

Baroka have been solid as a rock at the back in this com­pe­ti­tion. They have kept three clean sheets in three matches. They haven’t con­ceded a goal in 270 min­utes. They kept Golden Ar­rows, Sun­downs and Wits at bay. If you keep clean sheets, chances are you will emerge vic­to­ri­ously. They will need that again against a free-scor­ing Pi­rates team. It won’t be ele­men­tary against a re­ju­ve­nated Buc­ca­neers side. The Sea Rob­bers are ea­ger to end their tro­phy drought. Pi­rates have scored six goals in three matches in the Telkom Knock­out and Baroka need to repli­cate the same per­for­mances they dis­played against Sun­downs and Wits.

3. They must be aware of crit­i­cal phases of the game:

Baroka can’t af­ford to sleep if they are se­ri­ous about stun­ning Pi­rates. The Buc­ca­neers are very dan­ger­ous in crit­i­cal phases of the game. Baroka have to be switched on for the en­tire 90 min­utes. Most of Pi­rates’ goals have been net­ted in crit­i­cal phases of the game. When we talk about crit­i­cal phases of the game we are re­fer­ring to the first 20 min­utes of the first half, last 10 min­utes of the first half, first 15 min­utes of the sec­ond and the last 10 min­utes of the game. Against Chippa United, the Buc­ca­neers broke the dead­lock in the 60th min­utes. They also hurt AmaZulu dur­ing crit­i­cal mo­ments scor­ing on 37th, 92nd and 107th min­utes. It was the same story against Kaizer Chiefs with goals com­ing on the 13th and 84th min­utes. So Baroka be aware of crit­i­cal phases.

4. Set-plays:

Baroka must avoid com­mit­ting fouls around the box. Pi­rates play­ers have been deadly in the last cou­ple of weeks es­pe­cially in the Caf Cham­pi­ons League. Mpho Makola and Justin Shonga net­ted two stun­ning free kicks against Light Stars of Sey­chelles in the first leg of their pre­lim­i­nary round of the Caf Cham­pi­ons League. Vin­cent Pule can also be lethal at set pieces with his well ed­u­cated left foot. The Buc­ca­neers also boast ae­rial power with the likes of Happy Jele, Mar­shall Munetsi, In­no­cent Maele and Shonga. It is vi­tal for Baroka to put Pi­rates un­der pres­sure and dom­i­nate posses­sion so that they won’t find them­selves hav­ing to de­fend set­plays.

5. Win­ning the mid­field bat­tle:

Xola Mlambo and Ben Motshwari have been colos­sal for Pi­rates. They are the ones who dic­tate the game. Mlambo loves to drop deep and col­lect the ball and then spray those dan­ger­ous passes. Baroka need to press Pi­rates high and not al­low them to build from the back. They have to force them to punt long balls in­stead of al­low­ing them to build from the back. If you give Pi­rates space, they will hurt you. If you are tight on Motshwari and Mlambo, then Pule and Them­binkosi Lorch won’t get ser­vice up­front. Baroka were im­pec­ca­ble against Sun­downs es­pe­cially in mid­field.

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