Is it third time lucky for Pirates?

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iol spt dec4 Pirates Huddle

Gallo Images

Having lost in two finals alrady this season, Orlando Pirates will be hoping to avoid more heartbreak in the Telkom Knockout final. Photo by: Duif Du Toit/ Gallo Images

After losing 3-2 to Bloemfontein Celtic in the league over the weekend, Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa won’t be too happy to be facing Platinum Stars in the final of the Telkom Knockout Cup at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday night (8.15pm).

Pirates certainly don’t have fond memories of Platinum, the in-form club from Rustenburg.

It’s the second time the two teams meet in a final this season, with Platinum having defeated the Soweto club 3-1 on penalties in the MTN8 final in September.

Platinum, who are also currently third in the league standings, are again having a magnificent season. They ended second to champions Kaizer Chiefs during the last PSL campaign and they have continued in the same fashion this season, even though they are under the guidance of a new coach in Allan Freese.

Freese was coach Cavin Johnson’s assistant last season.

Johnson has since moved to SuperSport United, but Freese has maintained the level of form at which Platinum are performing.

Pirates’ De Sa knows what to expect from the well-drilled and ultra-competitive Platinum side and, looking back at the last final in which the teams met, he said: “I think we went into that (MTN8) final over-confident in our abilities. We did not have a bad game, but in the end Platinum did what they had to do to win.

“We have been handed a perfect opportunity to redeem ourselves following our defeat in that final. It won’t be an easy match by any means, but I think my guys are looking forward to this match.

“The loss to Celtic at the weekend is behind us now. We will lose some games in the league and that is normal. We did not play well, but now we have a different game, in which we will have to give everything we have.

“It is our third final and the guys know what is at stake – we cannot lose this fight again.”

The third final De Sa is referring to, of course, was in the African Champions League, where they lost over two legs to Egyptian side Al Ahly.

Importantly, for the Buccaneers, key players like midfielder Oupa Manyisa, central defender Rooi Mahamutsa and right-back Happy Jele are back for the final against Platinum.

The influential trio missed the defeat to Celtic because of injury – Manyisa (hamstring) and Mahamutsa (dislocated elbow) – and suspension (Jele). Their availability will considerably strengthen Pirates as they look to finally be on the winning side in a final.

“Rooi has already trained in the gym and had a session last Friday with the rest of the squad, so I’m sure he’ll be fine. He might just have to wear something to protect the injury.” - Cape Argus

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