Noth­ing Happy about Jele’s reunion with Benni

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - NJABULO NGIDI

HAPPY JELE will step into Cape Town Sta­dium tonight with war on his mind in Or­lando Pirates’ mini-reunion of some sort in their Ned­bank Cup last 16 clash with Cape Town City.

There will be a num­ber of fa­mil­iar faces for the Pirates’ stal­wart on the Cit­i­zens’ bench and match-day squad tonight.

Jele played with Tshepo Gumede, Robyn Jo­hannes, Teko Modise and briefly with Tham­sanqa Mkhize who was signed and dis­carded by Pirates be­fore he had played a com­pet­i­tive match for them.

The Cit­i­zen’ coach, Benni McCarthy, is Jele’s for­mer team­mate while McCarthy’s sec­ond as­sis­tant, Rayaan Ja­cobs, worked as the Buc­ca­neers’ tech­ni­cal an­a­lyst and coach of the Multi Choice Diski Chal­lenge team.

“Benni has been do­ing well, es­pe­cially since this is his first year as a coach,” Jele said. “I know him per­son­ally. He knows most of the play­ers who are here be­cause he played with some of them. But when we are on the pitch, it’s go­ing to be war.”

Jele con­tin­ued, “I have learnt a lot of things from Benni. I learnt from him to have pas­sion for foot­ball, the love for the game and re­spect­ing peo­ple around you. He is a good guy who won a lot of things in his ca­reer. You have to learn a lot from such an in­di­vid­ual. The rea­son I have spent so many years at Pirates is be­cause of what play­ers like Benni taught me. You have to lis­ten to the older guys and re­spect them so that you can play more games.”

Jele, who made his Pirates’ de­but in 2006, is likely to be the only face McCarthy will recog­nise from their do­mes­tic tre­ble win­ning days when the Buc­ca­neers step on to the field just be­fore 7.30pm.

Mi­cho Sre­do­je­vic and his tech­ni­cal team have dis­man­tled the Pirates of old to usher in a new era by cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where no one is guar­an­teed a place in the start­ing XI while giv­ing tal­ent that was dis­carded by the club and sent all over the coun­try on loan a chance. Ja­cobs, who spent eight years at Pirates and even worked with McCarthy there, has more in­sight on the cur­rent crop.

“It’s go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult one be­cause he knows each and every player in the team,” Jele said. “He was work­ing here. He just left. But in foot­ball you never know. You can make the wrong pre­dic­tion. We have to work harder be­cause they know us. He was here for a long time and he used to talk with the coaches of the first team.”

The Buc­ca­neers’ cam­paign in the Ned­bank Cup last sea­son ended in dis­ap­point­ment as they were thumped by Su­perS­port United in the fi­nal in Dur­ban. Mat­sat­santsa a Pi­tori put the fi­nal nail in the Soweto gi­ants’ cof­fin that night hav­ing also put the first nail by hand­ing them the 6-0 drub­bing in the league that led to their down­ward spi­ral and coach Muhsin Er­tu­gral re­sign­ing live on tele­vi­sion. Sre­do­je­vic was brought in to re­vive Pirates and re­turn them to their for­mer glory. Do­ing well in the Ned­bank Cup would con­trib­ute to that heal­ing process.

“We have had some ups and down in this com­pe­ti­tion,” Jele said. “We were not happy be­cause we lost in the fi­nal. You can’t be happy when you lose a fi­nal. We will try by all means to take it one game at a time with the aim of ap­pear­ing in an­other fi­nal. We need to progress to the next round and see what hap­pens after­wards.”

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