Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates are eager to get back on the pitch, according to head coach Roger de Sa, as they prepare to resume their Premiership campaign against SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
One point behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs before a lengthy seven-week break in the league, for the festive period and the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, De Sa said the Buccaneers had their fill of training and practice matches.
“We're tired of friendlies and empty stadiums and just training matches,” De Sa said ahead of the clash.
“The players enjoy the buzz of a full stadium and the red carpet.
“All that contributes to a good performance and it's what the players love.
“The guys are itching to get out there.”
Before the league was halted on December 19, Pirates had compiled a 10-match unbeaten run including seven wins.
“For us the momentum was right there, we would have liked the league to carry on, but the break came for everybody,” De Sa said.
“We've been doing a lot of training matches, so hopefully we're back to where we were, but you never know until you get to the first game.
“I just hope we've done the right work and the guys that are back from national duty are fresh and are ready to continue.”
The last time Pirates met SuperSport in the league, in August, they played to a goalless draw, and De Sa believed his Bucs outfit, chasing their third consecutive Premiership crown, would need to produce a strong performance to overcome Matsatsantsa.
“Every game we play is going to be difficult and it will be no different against SuperSport.
“We've got to do the business and pick up straight away. It will be tough, I would have liked it two or three games in against SuperSport, but that's the way it is and it's the same for both teams, so we've got to perform.”
SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt, meanwhile, said his players were equally hungry to start playing again.
“It was frustrating the last couple of weeks for everybody really,” Hunt said.
“We're sick and tired of training and practice matches, so we're looking forward to the game.”
Hunt's men, who have lifted the league trophy three times in the last five seasons, have drawn 11 of 16 games in the current campaign, and are down in eighth spot on the table.
The only difference in the first half of this season, according to the coach, was their struggle to find the back of the net.
“We've always been competitive. Last year this time we lost three games, this year we've only lost two,” Hunt said.
“Last year we were top of the league at this stage, but you know the reason why – we didn't score the goals, we had the chances and we conceded some poor goals in the first round.”
In other games on Wednesday, University of Pretoria host Golden Arrows at Tuks Stadium, Moroka Swallows travel to Cape Town Stadium to take on Ajax Cape Town, and Platinum Stars face Bloemfontein Celtic at Royal Bafokeng Stadium. – Sapa