Pirates on the verge of another Cup final

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iol spt aug22 VV-MTN presser Gallo Images Orland Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic has selected a tried and tested line-up for their MTN8 semi-final against Wits at the Orlando Stadium. Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Johannesburg – With Orlando Pirates on the verge of a fifth consecutive final, coach Vladimir Vermezovic selected a tried and tested line-up for their MTN8 semi-final at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

“The winning team never changes. We are going to make rotations at some point but for the moment this is the first eleven,” Vermezovic said.

The Buccaneers made the finals of the MTN8, Telkom Knockout, Caf Champions League and Nedbank Cup last season.

Pirates head into the clash with 2-0 advantage from last week's first-leg game and a 1-1 draw against AmaZulu in Wednesday's league match.

Vermezovic said his players were perhaps preoccupied with the crucial MTN8 encounter during their midweek encounter.

“Maybe we were tired, maybe we had too much celebration after the Wits win and maybe the players were thinking about the next game,” he said.

The Serbian-born coach urged his players to take care of the business at hand.

“We are professionals and have to approach every game in the right way. I am sure against Wits we will do well and get into another final,” he said.

The Sea Robbers powered to victory in the Nedbank Cup in May, weeks after Vermezovic officially took over and, although results had been going Pirates' way in cup competitions, Vermezovic said there was nothing extraordinary about the way they prepared for cup games.

“There is no difference in the way we approach the league and cup matches,” he said.

“We try to give our best in all games and play them like each is a final.”

If Pirates advance to the MTN8 final, it would be their second successive appearance, having finished runners-up to champions Platinum Stars last year.

Meanwhile, Wits have a mountain to climb, going into the game with a 2-0 deficit and playing the team which beat them 2-0 in the Nedbank Cup final.

Coach Gavin Hunt said it was key that his team scored first in Orlando.

“They will try to make it difficult for us but it's important we stay focused and keep our structure,” Hunt said.

“We need to go out there with a positive mindset.”

Hunt, who took the helm at Wits just over a year ago, said his team had not yet reached its peak.

“Pirates are a little bit more settled than we are, but my team can only get better from here.” – Sapa


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