Orlando Pirates must get themselves back on track with the speed of a Usain Bolt this week, as successive Soweto derbies give them little time to wallow in a rather dismal loss to the University of Pretoria.
The Buccaneers might just be helped in their task by the breath of fresh air blown in by the arrival of a new man in charge, with Vladimir Vermezovic, work permit now stamped, expected to be on the bench for the trip to Moroka Swallows tomorrow night, and the “home” derby against Absa Premiership leaders, and Vermezovic’s former club, Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday afternoon.
Pirates are currently 13 points behind Amakhosi, with one game in hand, and 12 games to go (for the Bucs) in the title race. Vermezovic must hit the ground running if Pirates are to have any chance of catching Chiefs, and the first issue has to be getting Pirates firing at the attacking end of the field.
The Buccaneers’ strikers have been pretty poor in the league all season, signified in the fact that their top scorer in the Absa Premiership is midfielder Oupa Manyisa, with four goals. Kermit Erasmus, the club’s highest scoring striker in the league, has netted twice.
Erasmus missed a wonderful chance to give Pirates the lead against Tuks in the last 10 minutes on Saturday, evening, and this error was compounded when Tuks went up the other end and scored the winner.
“I had a great chance to score but it did not happen and that obviously makes me disappointed. Had I converted that chance, it could ease the pressure a bit from us but I have to move on,” Erasmus told the Pirates official website.
“It is really tough to get in the squad and we all want to do well when on the field. Scoring is what gives us confidence to keep a good form as strikers; but I have to keep working and hope to do better next time.”
If one compares Pirates’ strikers to Chiefs’ it is easy to see why Amakhosi are so far in front – Bernard Parker, Knowledge Musona and Kingston Nkhatha have, between them, netted 21 of Chiefs’ 31 league goals this season.
There has to also be some doubt among Pirates fans about the appointment of Vermezovic, who did not win the league in three seasons at Chiefs, though he did pick up two Telkom Knockout titles.
Vermezovic, however, does have an instant chance to endear himself to Bucs fans, if he can beat Swallows and Chiefs in quick succession.
Swallows are, on paper, the easier opponent, with Zeca Marques’s side struggling to make an impact this season.
The Birds are currently six points behind Pirates, and in some danger of being dragged into a relegation battle, having won just one of their last nine league games. - The Star