Johannesburg – The last time Orlando Pirates won a trophy, Benni McCarthy, wearing the No 17 jersey, struck the winner as the Buccaneers won the Premiership title last year.
McCarthy headed home to level matters against Golden Arrows on that afternoon, before he curled home an absolute beauty from a dead-ball situation to seal a second consecutive league title for the Buccaneers.
Arguably the best striker of his generation, McCarthy has now retired and the No 17 jersey has been passed on to Lennox Bacela, who in just two months has proven to be Pirates’ main source of goals, both on home soil and in the CAF Champions League.
And as the Buccaneers head into Saturday’s MTN8 final with Platinum Stars at Moses Mabhida Stadium, the No 17 jersey will be on the prowl, looking to find a chink in Dikwena’s armour at the same venue that McCarthy terrorised Arrows’ defence.
“He (McCarthy) is one of the players I admired. For one, he plays same in the position as I do. And two, everybody knows what he has achieved. He has done great things for this country. I know the pressure that comes with wearing this jersey, but I am hoping to achieve the same things he achieved.”
Bacela has started quite well since joining from Bloemfontein Celtic, and if his rich vein of form in front of goal continues, the 30-year-old could go one better than McCarthy by winning the CAF Champions League.
For now, though, the focus is on the MTN8, a competition in which Bacela has managed to score three goals, including the equaliser that sealed a 2-1 aggregate win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs on Tuesday.
He’s the joint top scorer with Stars’ Siphelele Mthembu, and he’s hoping he can score the winner to earn himself not only an MTN8 winner’s medal, but the top scorer award too.
“I would love to score in the final. Hopefully if I score, it will be the deciding goal. I was happy to have scored the decisive goal against Chiefs because when the penalty was awarded, I knew it would be my responsibility to take it.
“I want to win a trophy with my team and also walk away with a personal accolade,” said Bacela, who came off the bench against SuperSport United in the first round last month to score a brace.
Bacela won the Telkom Knockout with Celtic last season, his first piece of silverware as a professional.
He feels he has joined the right club at which he can win many more trophies.
“I think when I came to Pirates I knew I was coming to a team where winning is everything. But I honestly did not think I would be in the final with my team so quickly after joining from Celtic. For me, it shows that I made the right decision to join Pirates.”
Finals can sometimes be cagey affairs, but Bacela is hoping the two sides can play entertaining football to give spectators their money’s worth.
“The good thing about playing them is that they are a ball-playing team, so the final is bound to be exciting,” said the former Santos striker.
“I hope they stick to the way they’ve been playing, and we will stick to our way to make it exciting. Plus the Durban pitch is very good, so we can play good football.”