WHAT’S ON TKO
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.
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.