Pietermaritzburg – To assume the out-of-form Orlando Pirates were there for the taking would be a huge mistake, said Maritzburg United coach Steve Komphela ahead of their weekend Nedbank Cup semi-final.
The two sides clash at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday when the Soweto giants will be hoping to salvage something from an embattled season which has already seen them lose three finals.
“To think that will be a huge mistake,” Komphela said on Tuesday.
“They are not there for the taking, their capacity is clear.
“Whether it’s the right-back Thabo Matlaba or Oupa Manyisa or Happy Jele – or whoever you want to name in their team – anyone of them is capable.”
The Buccaneers, runners-up in the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and CAF Champions League, have shown poor form of late, winning just twice in their last six league and cup games.
“They are an established club from bottom to the top,” Komphela said.
“We need to show a lot of respect and humility, and if we can carry those values with us into the match, perhaps we can get something out of it.”
The match represents the biggest in the club’s history to date – it is the first semi-final for the Team of Choice – but the coach played down the magnitude.
“You don’t have to magnify the size of the game to an extent where it swallows you. It’s one of those matches. The moment you put a magnifying glass on it, you exaggerate and you see things that are not even there.
“Players also then start to get a bit anxious and they panic. But it’s a wonderful opportunity for the club to have a stage where you are in the semi-finals having survived relegation.
“Personally I feel the club deserves even more, and maybe this is the opportunity to take advantage and confirm the amount of investment put in by the players and the coaches.”
The former Bafana Bafana boss has been the mastermind of United’s success having only taken charge in early January when they were in the midst of a huge relegation scrap.
But they have lost just four times in 16 games since his arrival to move into top-eight league contention, while their cup run has seen them oust Mpumalanga Black Aces, Platinum Stars and African Warriors.
“When I got the invite to come and take responsibility of this project, I did an audit to check what was available in terms of resources,” Komphela said.
“At the back of my mind I felt there were a good amount of players that could do justice.
“I strongly believe that hard work pays. That’s what’s happened here. If you work hard, you’re honest and you believe in yourself, you never get surprised by the results that are forthcoming.” – Sapa