Saturday Star

‘Bucs need to click at Downs’

- MAZOLA MOLEFE

WITH growing calls that Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza should not delay the appointmen­t of a permanent coach any further, versatile player Abbubaker Mobara said it was too early to press panic buttons ahead of this afternoon’s grudge Absa Premiershi­p clash against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

The cries for a new man to relieve beleaguere­d interim coach Augusto Palacios of his duties are likely to get even louder should the Buccaneers fail to end their five-match winless run in all competitio­ns at Loftus Versfeld today.

“I think when the chairman is ready to hire someone permanentl­y, he will,” said Mobara, in his forthright manner.

“Right now coach Palacios is in charge and we have not been told anything different. I feel we have been unlucky, especially the goalless draw against Platinum Stars on Wednesday.

“We had such an impressive mid-season break, winning our friendly games and showing we can still compete. So it came as a shock to a lot of us when we couldn’t win our first game of the year.”

Pirates fans had a meltdown on social media following the poor showing away to Dikwena earlier in the week, a result that further derailed the club’s hopes of staying with the title-chasing pack and remaining a threat.

Palacios’ men didn’t move from 10th place after 14 matches. They are now nine points behind log leaders SuperSport United, who will not be in action this weekend due to CAF Confederat­ion Cup commitment­s.

Mobara said beating rivals Sundowns will guarantee they stay in contention for the championsh­ip.

“It’s the perfect time to show our skill and ability,” said Mobara, who can play in defence or in an anchorman role in midfield.

“We are not saying it is going to be easy against Sundowns. We are going to have to concentrat­e until the final whistle.

“I remember playing against Pirates when I was at Ajax and we always raised our game. Sundowns won’t be different in their approach, but our team has to be unified and not complain that results haven’t gone our way recently.

“We had a fantastic little mid-season break, and we need to build on that.”

Asked what needed to change for results to improve, Mobara argued that there was very little out of place at Pirates. The biggest disruption seems to have come in November when Muhsin Ertugral quit six matches into the season after the Buccaneers suffered their biggest defeat since 1990 when they were thrashed 6-1 by SuperSport United in a league match.

But the Bafana Bafana player believes there’s still time to pick up the pieces. “We expected to hammer Platinum Stars, to be honest. It’s only a matter of time before we click,” he explained.

“I think we still stand a good chance of winning the championsh­ip. We just have to start collecting points. We can’t keep settling for draws, neither can we keep losing.

“We have to go back to the drawing board and work harder, analyse the teams we play against and show what we are capable of doing.

“We have a lot of brilliant individual­s in the team and we have to put it together and make it work. There’s a lot of understand­ing and joy at training, no negative vibes. But that needs to come out on the pitch.”

Mobara was speaking to Molefe at the launch of the Adidas Football Base in Joburg this week.

@superjourn­o

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