at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
It’s very difficult to keep a low profile at Bidvest Stadium, almost impossible actually. It’s such a small stadium, even the players and coaches on the bench can spot anyone sitting in the VIP area.
Orlando Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic on Wednesday night did not have any trouble spotting Maritzburg United coach Steve Komphela, who was in the VIP area with his iPad to take down a few notes on the Buccaneers ahead of the clubs’ Nedbank Cup semi-final clash at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow (8.15pm).
Pirates were not convincing in their goalless draw with Bidvest Wits on the night, and Komphela must have thought his side have a realistic chance of qualifying for the final when he left Bidvest Stadium.
But Vermezovic, who is wary of the “tricky” Komphela, has warned the Maritzburg coach that Pirates will be a different side to the one that failed to breach the Clever Boys’ defence in midweek.
“Maritzburg won’t be an easy game for us. I saw my friend on Wednesday, he was in the stands to take some notes. I am talking about Steve Komphela. But he must also know that even I do not know how my players are going to perform, because everything depends on the players. If they are in a good mood, like they were against (Mamelodi) Sundowns, then we can win.
“He is a very serious guy with his job, but sometimes he looks tricky, and likes to make jokes. But I never trust him 100percent. Even during the game he likes talking to Teboho Moloi (Pirates assistant coach) to make jokes.
“They talk in isiZulu, and I told them they must speak in English because I do not understand. I am going to make changes to my team and we will see what happens,” the Serbian said yesterday.
Komphela is certainly a threat to Pirates’ Nedbank Cup title hopes. Since taking over at Maritzburg, the former Free State Stars coach has re-ignited a side that looked hopeless under previous coach Clinton Larsen.
Maritzburg have no relegation worries. That has been extinguished by a good run of form in the second half of the season, and they now have a good chance of qualifying for their first final.
There is no doubt Komphela will plan thoroughly to ensure his boys do the unthinkable by winning the competition.
“He (Komphela) is a great coach, a great motivator. I know Steve from when he was coaching Free State (Stars), and we were also together on some courses in Pretoria. I know him from when he was in Turkey as well.
“For sure he will prepare his team very well. It’s an opportunity for Maritzburg to get something. But everything depends on us,” Vermezovic said.
The Serbian, cool yesterday ahead of the trip to KZN, said he is not concerned about his side’s inability to convert scoring chances. Pirates have scored more than one goal in a game just twice since Vermezovic took over.
“I would like to win all my games with a 1-0 scoreline. I don’t care about the result. Normally it’s much better when you score two or three goals, but believe me, 1-0 is a result that can get you the title.”
Pirates have struggled in the league under Vermezovic, but they’ve done fairly well in the Cup, beating Santos in the last 16 before defying the odds in the quarter-finals to knock out in-form Mamelodi Sundowns side.
A win tomorrow would edge Vermezovic closer to his third title in South Africa.
But he’d have to out-think Komphela, who must have left Bidvest Stadium with a clear idea of how he’ll overcome his opponents. - The Star