Gavin Hunt would kill to have the kind of experience the Orlando Pirates players have in knockout competitions in his squad.
Pirates may be struggling in the league without a victory, but they have been a different side in the MTN8 thus far, scoring four goals in two matches, compared to the four they have scored in three matches in the league.
The Buccaneers certainly know how to grind out a result in the knockout competitions and are strong favourites to see off Bidvest Wits in a two-legged tie they lead 2-0 going into the return leg in Orlando tomorrow (8.15pm). Hunt’s Clever Boys have got talent, but most of them do not have cup pedigree.
“They are not doing very well in the league, but they are firing in the cups. They have the experience. They’re battle hard. They did not play better than us in the first leg, but they scored the two goals, so that shows a sign of a good experienced team,” said Hunt yesterday.
“And that’s why I say we need to take our players into Africa. Look at what playing (in the CAF Champions League) has done for those Pirates players. They are tough mentally and they battle hard and they win games even when they shouldn’t win games,” he added.
Hunt, though, is quite experienced in knockout competitions himself and cannot be ruled out of causing an upset in Orlando tomorrow.
The former SuperSport United coach is hoping his boys get an early goal to unsettle the hosts and the crowd.
“I think it’s important for us to go there with a positive mindset. We cannot be stupid. We need to keep our structure. I am not going to play a 2-2-6 formation. That’s what (Paul) Dolezar used to do or whatever. We need to score first and that could create a different type of atmosphere and a different situation. We will play properly and we will try to create chances,” Hunt said.
Hunt is pleased that his new Dutch defender Kees Kwakman finally got his work permit and gave the player his debut in the midweek league match against Maritzburg United. Kwakman is likely to start in defence against the Buccaneers.
“When I saw him the first day, I knew what we are getting and last night against Maritzburg was the evidence. He is a left footed centre-back, which is so important. You don’t get those these days.
“Our team was compact, from the back to the front. He made all the difference. He is what I am looking for. Obviously he will take time to settle, like any foreign player.”
Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic, meanwhile, is wary of a Wits side who have some good players in attack.
“Nothing is decided. We have the advantage, but it’s very tricky. I always say to my players that a 2-0 result is very dangerous. The opponents can score and put you under pressure.
“So our approach will be as though the score is 0-0. We will attack and fight, but we also have to be very careful. They have a good coach who knows how to prepare his team. But we will be prepared for the game.” - The Star