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iol spt mar21 Pirates-Aces

Manus van Dyk/Gallo Images

Athlone Stadium has been a tough place for Pirates and their players are feeling the affects of a long season. Photo by Manus van Dyk/Gallo Images

Orlando Pirates will have to overhaul a bogey team as well as their own shaky form tonight, if they are to walk away from Athlone Stadium in the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup.

The Buccaneers face a Santos side that might now be in the first division, but who have given them plenty of problems over the years in the Mother City

One has to go back to December 6, 2006 to find Pirates’ last league win over Santos in Cape Town, a 3-2 victory courtesy of two goals from Excellent Walaza and one from Innocent Mdledle.

Even when Pirates did the treble in the 2011/12 season, and Santos were relegated, the People’s Team still thumped Bucs in Cape Town, as remembered this week by winger Daine Klate.

“We don’t have a good history against Santos in Cape Town. I think the season they got relegated they beat us 3-0,” said Klate, who played that day as Santos triumphed with a double from Eleazar Rodgers, and one from Erwin Isaacs.

It has been a tricky start to his tenure at the club for Vladimir Vermezovic, who started with a victory over Moroka Swallows, but followed that up with defeat to Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby, and a midweek draw with MP Black Aces, results that have all but ended Pirates’ title hopes.

“It will be difficult having come off the draw with Aces,” added Klate.

“It was disappointing, we are expected to win every game we play. It is about how well the guys have recovered from the game on Tuesday, and the effort we can give against Santos.

“They will come out and give their all and if we don’t match that we could fall short. We must match their effort … and with our quality we can overcome them.”

The Pirates winger, who seems unlikely to play tonight because of a knee injury, added that a busy schedule has given little time for Vermezovic to spend on the training field with his new side.

“We have only seen him three or four times at training with the schedule,” said Klate.

“He is trying his best to get to know us, to personally speak to us one on one. Training has not changed much, Eric (Tinkler, the assistant coach) is still doing a lot of the preparation. But the coach is trying his best, we must understand he is coming in at a difficult time.

“I want to be there for the coach when he needs information to see how to best move the team forward.”

Klate admitted that the break with his knee injury has done him some good after an exhausting season for Pirates, that has seen them play 41 games thus far in all competitions.

“I look at a player like Oupa Manyisa and I feel sorry for him. If you looked yesterday (at the game against Aces), his mind wants to do it, but his body is not there. We have played so many games, there is not much we can do.

“I have had a break and am refreshed, my fitness is there, I am just struggling with my knee at the moment … it is hectic when you are playing every second or third day. You are just focusing on recovering. I feel sorry for the coach, when he wants to instill his philosophies and fix things.”

As well as Klate, Pirates could be without left-back Thabo Matlaba this evening, depending on whether or not he has recovered from the flu. - The Star


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