Pirates out to end Cape jinx

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iol spt apr26 Pirates Gallo Images Orlando Pirates plan on changing their Cape fortune when they take on Ajax Cape Town in their league encounter at Cape Town Stadium on Friday night.

Orlando Pirates plan on changing their Cape fortune when they take on Ajax Cape Town in their league encounter at Cape Town Stadium on Friday night, says captain Lucky Lekgwathi.

The memory is still fresh of how the defending Premiership champions nearly lost their grip on the title when they went down 3-0 to the Urban Warriors at a similar stage last season.

Pirates were also handed the same losing margin by struggling Santos at nearby Athlone Stadium last month, in Augusto coach Palacios' first game in charge.

“Points are what we need at this stage and if it means we have to die with our boots on in Cape Town, we will do so,” Lekgwathi was quoted saying on Pirates' website on Thursday, with the Soweto giants in search of a first-ever successive championship.

The Buccaneers are also in line for a consecutive treble, another rare domestic achievement.

Only Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United have won back-to-back crowns since the formation of a professional league in 1985.

Pirates (48 points) carry a two-point lead over Sundowns, with SuperSport (45 points), Moroka Swallows (44 points), Free State Stars (42 points) and Chiefs (40 points) also in contention.

“With four matches left in the league, we have a responsibility to defend the title,” said Lekgwathi.

“Winning the league comes with a lot of prestige, respect and recognition. (This is) something we will not be prepared to compromise when we take on Ajax.”

They will aim for an improved display from their 0-0 draw with Wits on Saturday night. However, unlike the defensive strategy applied by the Clever Boys on the weekend, Ajax use an offensive philosophy, with a goalfest expected.

“Both teams play exciting football, and both teams need to win this game,” said Ajax coach Maarten Stekelenburg, with his team after a top-four finish this campaign.

Mercurial Ajax are currently in eighth place with 36 points, and still have a game in hand against Chiefs to achieve their ambition.

“Pirates are fighting to win the league title and we are aiming for a top four finish,” Stekelenburg said.

“Our players need no motivation ahead of this game. Last time out we got a fantastic result, winning 3-0 at Newlands Stadium.

“A similar result will give our players the confidence to finish this season on a high.”

They will miss the suspended duo of Khama Billiat and Nhlanhla Vilakazi, though, while Lebogang Manyama is subject to a late fitness test.

In Saturday's fixtures, Stars host Maritzburg United in Phuthaditjhaba, with Wits tackling Bloemfontein Celtic at Milpark.

Kaizer Chiefs clash with SuperSport United at FNB Stadium in the evening, with AmaZulu lining up against Platinum Stars in Durban. On Sunday, Sundowns face tricky Santos in Atteridgeville, while Swallows play Golden Arrows in Dobsonville. – Sapa

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