Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates will need to find consistency, according to coach Roger de Sa, if they are to challenge for league honours and bag their third straight Premiership title.
De Sa's outfit will look to show their strength when they take on Free State Stars at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night after securing a comfortable victory over strugglers Mamelodi Sundowns in their midweek clash.
“Consistency has been one of my issues with the team,” said De Sa, who took over from former Buccaneers coach Augusto Palacios in September.
“It's been a bit up and down but going back home to play Free State Stars, I think we'll have a pretty decent crowd.
“Hopefully we are well motivated, but it's going to be difficult to rest the players. It's tough.”
De Sa admitted that Pirates, lying second in the standings, would have to dig deep this weekend, playing their third fixture in six days, which started with a disappointing Telkom Knockout defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic last week.
“Three games in six days Ä with the travelling Ä is quite harsh on the players, added to the heat, and we'll look to freshen the team up,” De Sa said.
“Hopefully the players will come out on Saturday with the same temperament that they had against Sundowns. If we do that, we should do okay, because Free State Stars will be tough as well.”
The Bucs coach added that veteran striker Benni McCarthy was still not in contention for a return to duty.
“We thought Benni would be back for Saturday, but at Wednesday's training session, he didn't feel too comfortable,” De Sa said.
“He felt a twitch in his hamstring, so he's back in the physio room, and I just hope it's not that serious and that he can come back after the Bafana international (against Zambia next week), fit and ready to play.
“We miss him, in the change room and on the field.”
Meanwhile, Sundowns' boss Johan Neeskens, having seen his side drop to last place in the league standings after the defeat to Pirates, said he took several positives from the defeat and hoped the team would bounce back against the University of Pretoria this week.
“If we create chances, we have to be positive that we will score, so we have to keep working on that,” Neeskens said.
“As long as we keep creating, one game when it goes our way, then the players will click.
“We have to believe in that and also in the players.”
In Saturday's other fixtures, Platinum Stars host Bidvest Wits in Rustenburg, Golden Arrows face Maritzburg United in Umlazi and SuperSport United play table-toppers Kaizer Chiefs in Polokwane.
On Sunday, Ajax Cape Town host Black Leopards at Cape Town Stadium, while Celtic take on AmaZulu in Bloemfontein.
The weekend's action was set to kick off on Friday evening, with Moroka Swallows at home to Chippa United in Dobsonville. – Sapa