at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic says his team can have no excuses if they do not win the Nedbank Cup trophy on Saturday.
He dismissed fears of mental and physical fatigue following a difficult season.
“It’s been a long two seasons for the players and for me, during my two-month stay here. The players are tired and also suffering mental fatigue,” Vermezovic said ahead of Saturday’s showdown with Wits at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
“But now, for this game, there are no excuses. The players are ready, they have no problems with injuries, no problems with suspensions and, with a full squad, we’re going to play our final game.”
The Buccaneers have tried but failed in three previous cup finals, including the Caf Champions League, where they had to settle for second best against Egyptian side Al-Ahly in November.
Since then, a 2-1 defeat to Platinum Stars in the final of the Telkom Knockout in December completed a hat-trick of cup disappointments, having already lost to Stars in the season’s first cup tournament – the MTN8.
“It’s our fourth final and I think our guys don’t need any help for this game, they know how to reach it, how we’re going to play and how to win this game,” Vermezovic said.
The Sea Robbers had had a somewhat disappointing campaign under Roger De Sa – who parted ways with the club in January – and then under Vermezovic, who joined the Soweto giants having spent three years at fierce rivals Kaizer Chiefs between 2009 and 2012.
With their participation in the final game of the season secured after the league came to an end last weekend, Vermezovic’s troops would have played every game available to a team in a scheduled season, progressing to every cup final during this campaign.
The Serbian mentor said his squad would have to put behind them what happened this season and focus on changing their mentality ahead of yet another final.
“First of all, the players have to forget about the previous finals because the past is the past and we have to leave it,” he said.
“It will be very nice to finish the season on a high level, with one trophy.
“I don’t think that this season was so bad like some people have been saying, because the guys reached three finals under De Sa. They played most of the games, they won most of the games.”
Pirates meet a determined Wits outfit led by Gavin Hunt, who is bidding to win his second Nedbank Cup title in three seasons. He also steered the Clever Boys to their best ever finish in the Premiership, finishing third in his first season in charge.
“We know what we can expect from Wits. It’s a tough game because they have good players, good coaching and they will prepare something for us,” Vermezovic said.
“It’s our fourth final. It’s time to win something but I don’t think Mr Hunt is going to give up so easily.”
Captain Lucky Lekgwathi echoed his coach’s sentiments, calling Wits “the best team of the season”.
“We know that we’re going to play against a tough team, we know it’s not going to be easy,” Lekgwathi said.
“We want to go out on a high note. We have to make sure that we go to Durban and get something for the supporters and for the team.” – Sapa