Durban – Orlando Pirates assistant coach Eric Tinkler says his side need to be wary of the threat posed by the outstanding Wits captain Sibusiso Vilakazi when the two side's meet in the Nedbank Cup final in Durban on Saturday.
The attacking midfielder has been one of the stand-out players in South African football this season and will be looking to crown his season with a title.
“He's been one of the best players this season without a shadow of a doubt,” Tinkler said.
“He's a great player and we'll need to be at or best to control him, especially on the ball when he is very creative.”
Tinkler, the former Bafana Bafana midfielder said Pirates were capable of curbing the young attacker, who had scored in the last three rounds of the cup for the Students.
“We have dealt with him in the past. What we need is to be more focused on ourselves and our own strengths and look at where their weaknesses lie.
“Without a doubt they're very strong going forward, but we have a great defensive record this season, keeping 11 clean sheets. Our biggest problem has been going forward and scoring goals.”
Although Pirates would be without the injured Lennox Bacela, Tinkler felt they had enough cover for the veteran striker.
Bacela suffered a season-ending foot injury recently and would be the only major absentee for the game after Happy Jele, Tlou Segolela and Thandani Ntshumayelo were all declared fit.
Wits's only major absentee was Burundi star Papy Faty, out with a knee injury sustained last month.
Lead by Vilakazi, the Students have been one of the outstanding attacking sides this season and their assistant coach, Paul Johnson, expected the 24-year-old to be a central figure in the game.
“He's had a fantastic season. He's our captain and has led by example,” Johnson said.
“From a harsh or more critical point of view, he should have scored more goals than he has Ä at least 20, to be honest. He knows that and can take that criticism.
“I think he'll be chomping at the bit to score again in the final.”
Tickets for the game were sold out my mid-afternoon on Thursday with a capacity crowd of over 50,000 expected.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt will be competing in his third straight Nedbank Cup final after leading former club SuperSport to the title in 2011/12 and ending runners-up with them last season.
For Pirates, it is their final chance to win silverware this season, after they lost three other finals Ä the MTN8, the Telkom Knockout and CAF Champions League. – Sapa