at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Zeca Marques believes the arrival of Vladimir Vermezovic at Orlando Pirates can give the Buccaneers a lift ahead of this evening’s Soweto derby against his own struggling Moroka Swallows.
But the Swallows coach also feels that his side will find extra motivation from playing the Buccaneers, as the Birds seek to get out of a slump that has seen them win just one of their last nine league games.
Vermezovic is set to be on the bench for the first time since joining Pirates at Dobsonville Stadium and Marques said yesterday that: “A new coach always gives a boost, and the players want to impress him. But from our side we always get a boost when playing Pirates.
“Our players are up to the challenge, and let’s see, it will be an interesting game. I think we need it more than them at this stage.”
That is debatable, given that the Buccaneers are desperate for points if they are to have any chance of challenging for the title, and are coming off a 1-0 loss to the University of Pretoria on the weekend.
But Swallows are certainly in need of points to stave off being dragged into a relegation struggle, seeing as they are just seven points ahead of Free State Stars in 15th spot.
“Every point you lose drags you down to the bottom and … you don’t want to be there. The players know their responsibility and have to show character, it has been an emotionally trying time for us,” added Marques.
Swallows have certainly had to endure their share of tragedy in 2014, with assistant coach Dennis Lota passing away at the beginning of February. On the field, meanwhile, Marques feels their main problem has been not taking the chances that have come their way.
“This is also Pirates’ well documented problem, a waywardness in front of goal again damaging the Buccaneers against Tuks.
“It has been tough, we have been playing well, but mistakes have cost us, a lack of concentration in certain parts of the game” said Marques.
“And we have not been finishing. It does not matter how well you play if you don’t score. If you make mistakes you are going to be punished.
“But I think the last two performances have been solid. Against Celtic (a 1-1 draw on the weekend), we deserved more than a draw, we had so many great chances.
“… that is why there is not justice in football, you don’t get the points for playing well, you get points for hitting the back of the net … maybe the derby will inspire the players (from both teams).”
Pirates, of course, must keep their focus on this game, with another derby, the sell-out clash with Kaizer Chiefs, coming up on Saturday. At times, both Chiefs and Pirates have not performed well just ahead of their much-hyped meetings.
“I certainly hope so (that they are distracted),” said Marques yesterday.
“Chiefs-Pirates is always the game of the year. So let’s see, although I don’t think it will happen.”
Bloemfontein Celtic v Polokwane City, Kaizer Sebothelo
Moroka Swallows v Orlando Pirates, Dobsonville Stadium
Golden Arrows v Black Aces, King Zwelithini Stadium
Platinum Stars v Kaizer Chiefs, Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Matches at 7.30pm unless otherwise stated
Maritzburg Utd v AmaZulu, Harry Gwala Stadium, 8pm
Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs, FNB Stadium, 3.30pm
Mamelodi Sundowns v Polokwane City; Loftus Stadium8.15pm
Bidvest Wits v Free State Stars, Bidvest Stadium 8.15pm
Ajax Cape Town v University of Pretoria, Athlone Stadium
Bloemontein Celtic v SuperSport United, Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium, 3.30pm - The Star