Kjell Jonevret Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG - When Kjell Jonevret took up the Orlando Pirates coaching job, he knew exactly what was required of him to save the Buccaneers’ sinking ship this season.

And, though he had little time to work with his new side leading up to his first match against Polokwane City where they played to a 1-all draw in February, the Swede argued that they needed to sort out their defensive frailties, while being ruthless in attack as well.

Following his unveiling at the club, the Buccaneers responded well to his coaching methods and went on to play three consecutive 1-1 draws leading up to their Nedbank last 32 encounter against an ABC Motsepe league side, EC Bees FC, whom they beat 3-2.

However, Pirates defender Thabo Matlaba feels they have regressed since. From what was a positive start with the new gaffer, to have lost their league encounter against Free State Stars 3-2 last week was a travesty.

“I don’t know what’s the problem (with this team),” Matlaba said.

“We’ve have endless analysis. One thing we’ve picked up from those talks, though, is that we’ve been conceding (a lot of) goals. We spoke about it but that weakness persists. Even in our last game against Free State Stars, we conceded some very soft goals.”

Matlaba, who was in that line-up that saw them drop valuable league points, said he hopes they can bounce back when they meet the Bethlehem outfit in their Nedbank Cup last 16 tie at James Motlatsi Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 8.15pm).

“We weren’t focused in that match,” Matlaba admitted.

“They scored inside the first three minutes. We’re playing them again (Saturday) and we’ve been preparing really hard. We simply have to come away with a win.”

As the Buccaneers celebrate their 80th anniversary this year, Matlaba conceded that it's painful not winning a single trophy in what ought to be an auspicious season.

The Bafana Bafana international, though, added that they havn’t thrown in the towel, as they believe they can finish the season strongly.

“Things have not been looking good for us,” Matlaba said.

“But we are professionals and we'll do everything in our power (to get the results for the team). We also owe it to our myriad of supporters, even though luck seems to have deserted us.

“(The poor run of form) hurts us as players. And we understand the disappointment our fans are experiencing.

“Football is our profession. We get paid to go out there, entertain the supporters and produce results.

“It becomes very painful when we end up losing matches we should be winning.

“We’ve got to get back to winning ways ...”

Meanwhile, Matlaba said it isn’t Jonevret’s fault that the team have been struggling to produce positive results, adding that the 54-year-old mentor is doing everything in his power to get the team playing good football again.

“We always push ourselves at training,” Matlaba said.

“We need to translate that spark and enthusiasm into game situations.

“Coach Jonevret is doing his utmost to motivate us.

“He always stresses about the significance of working hard so twe can get back our mojo.

“I believe he’s doing a great job, though he’s still new and trying to get to know us better.

“We just need to repay the faith and reclaim the Orlando Pirates aura of greatness.

“Our fans deserve better, so we must make sure we work really hard in the remaining matches and lift our game.”

The Star