at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
As Orlando Pirates take a trip down to their least favourite place on Friday, Lucky Lekgwathi has warned them not to repeat previous mistakes if they hope to retain the Absa Premiership title.
Pirates travel to Ajax Cape Town on Friday for an away fixture which is undoubtedly the toughest of their remaining four games, and captain Lekgwathi is all too familiar with the pain suffered by the Buccaneers in recent trips to the Mother City.
The Urban Warriors hammered Bucs 3-0 around this time last year, leaving their title dream in tatters and, more recently, Santos inflicted a similarly heavy defeat on Pirates when they last visited Cape Town.
“I remember those games pretty well. No one will forget so soon,” said Lekgwathi on Tuesday. “We have not won in the Cape for some time, but we need to change that now.”
Pirates sit two points clear at the top of the Premiership, having displaced stuttering Mamelodi Sundowns.
If they collect maximum points on Friday, Bucs would be guaranteed a stay at the No1 spot for yet another round, irrespective of how other title rivals perform in the weekend programme.
But Lekgwathi said Pirates could not be bothered about their chasers. “Being top with a two-point advantage means we can concentrate on ourselves. That’s where we need to focus and not concern ourselves about what other teams do. There are only four games to go, so we have to strive to win each and every game. We don’t bother about other teams. Last weekend Sundowns played before us and lost, but we didn’t concern ourselves with that in our game against (Bidvest) Wits.”
Bucs’ advantage could be even higher had they secured a win against Wits, and in the preceding game against fellow title chasers Moroka Swallows. Lekgwathi acknowledged drawing both those games was a setback, but added Augusto Palacios’ team were content to come away with a point rather than defeat.
“We could have won both games, but a draw is always better than nothing. This is a critical stage in the championship race and we’ll take anything. I remember last year a draw against Santos in Cape Town kept us in the title race and actually went a long way in winning us the league,” the veteran defender said.
Another draw on Friday would not be a bad result for Pirates, but Sundows could depose them on goal difference if they beat Santos on Saturday. What Lekgwathi wants Pirates to avoid at all costs is a repeat of the disastrous performance seen last April against the Urban Warriors, and the one against the People’s Team in Palacios’s first match last month.
“We made big mistakes in both games, conceding early and while going in search of an equaliser, they (Ajax and Santos) took advantage and scored more goals. We need to improve on our focus and concentration. We can’t give them too much room to play like was the case the last time,” Lekgwathi said.
Also counting on Pirates’ favour is the absence of their tormentor from last season, Khama Billiat, the Ajax midfielder who is serving suspension. – The Star