Pi­rates only favourites on pa­per — Nyirenda

The Witness - - RACING - — Kick­Off.

OR­LANDO Pi­rates will have fresh legs and the sta­tus as favourites, but Baroka FC coach Wedson Nyirenda be­lieves his Lim­popo-based side need to win the Telkom Knock­out more than Or­lando Pi­rates do.

Pi­rates head into to­mor­row’s tour­na­ment-de­cider in Port El­iz­a­beth with the smart money on them and their first­team play­ers were gen­er­ally not in­volved in mid­week ac­tion in Africa.

But Nyirenda has pointed out that his side beat other PSL gi­ants Mamelodi Sun­downs and Bid­vest Wits to reach their maiden Cup fi­nal.

“Pi­rates is the big­gest team now, very or­gan­ised and they have a very good crop of play­ers. I think they can make three or four good teams,” Nyirenda said.

“It is a team that has a good squad, good depth.

“Get­ting into this game, we have come very far. We have met equally good teams in the league and com­ing to this stage we have kept clean sheets in all our matches, and we have been scor­ing goals. We come to this match with a lot of things.”

Nyirenda, who joined Baroka in the off-sea­son, knows how spe­cial it will be for the mod­est Absa Premier­ship side to win their first tro­phy at the log lead­ers’ ex­pense.

“I will be happy if we are called favourites or un­der­dogs.

“Yes, we are go­ing into this game against a team that won ma­jor tro­phies, in­clud­ing the Caf [Cham­pi­ons League] and zero on our side.

“So, we need it most, more than them. Ev­ery player in the team knows what is ex­pected.

“Few of them have won tro­phies and the rest this could be the first.”

Baroka have been in­ac­tive since de­feat­ing Wits on Novem­ber 25, while Pi­rates have played three times since elim­i­nat­ing Kaizer Chiefs from the tour­na­ment on Novem­ber 24.

Bucs most re­cently beat Light Stars 3-1 in Sey­chelles on Wed­nes­day to ad­vance 8-2 on ag­gre­gate to the first round of the Caf Cham­pi­ons League.

“We had a lit­tle bit of a longer pe­riod to pre­pare for this game, but we also have in mind the league be­cause we are not in a good po­si­tion.

“We have a big game com­ing after the fi­nal and this is what is in our minds. So, we have been pre­par­ing for these two big games, Sun­downs and Pi­rates,” said Nyirenda.

The win­ners of to­mor­row’s match will earn R4 mil­lion and the run­ners-up R1,5 mil­lion, plus all 16 teams who played in the com­pe­ti­tion get R250 000 as an ap­pear­ance fee and at least an­other R200 000 as first-round losers.

To­mor­row’s match kicks off at 6 pm, with live cov­er­age on Su­per­Sport and SABC.

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES

Baroka FC coach Wedson Nyirenda, whose men are un­der­dogs for the Telkom Knock­out fi­nal against Or­lando Pi­rates in Port El­iz­a­beth to­mor­row.

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