First blood will keep Gavin’s warriors in the Hunt
JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates and nemesis Kaizer Chiefs are not paying much attention to their respective outings of their meeting in the first leg of the MTN8 semifinals, both vowing they’ll adopt an offensive approach in the return leg this afternoon.
In the first leg of the Wafa Wafa semifinals in the Soweto derby, Pirates enjoyed all the thrills as they ran out victories at home, Orlando Stadium, by 3-0. Thanks to goals from Zakhele Lepasa, Vincent Pule and Thembinkosi Lorch.
The defeat for Chiefs, on the other hand, was a harsh reminder of their inept attempt to sign players this season, following the transfer-ban, as new commander in chief Gavin Hunt has had to try new combinations on every match-day.
Pirates’ coach Josef Zinnbauer will be the notable absentee from the Buccaneers’ technical team this afternoon (3pm kickoff) in the return leg away at FNB Stadium as he’s on compassionate leave at home in German. But the 50-year-old mentor has left the Buccaneers in a steady state.
Assistant coach Fadlu Davids, one of the longest serving members of Pirates’ technical team, will be barking instructions from the touchline, aiming to guide the Sea Robbers to the final – as they look to end a six-year run without trophies.
Davids, an astute mentor in his own right, recently reminded the fraternity football of his prowess of running the touchline, inspiring Pirates to their first victory in the DStv Premiership over Bloemfontein Celtic midweek, thanks to a solo goal from Siphesihle Ndlovu.
But going to his first derby as coach, Davids will know he has his job cut out for him. Nonetheless, the 39-year-old coach is not overwhelmed by the occasion, saying they’ll not read too much into the first result, instead treat the return leg as a new game.
“We’ll approach the match like a normal match. We’ll take the score line out of the equation. I think we’ll make a mistake if we start the game with the score line in our heads,” said Davids whose team will likely wrap up the contest if they score an away goal.
“We’ve seen in the Champions League finals where teams lead 3-0 at halftime and (oppositions) come back to win it. We take it as a halftime, but not as halftime, instead 90 minutes to play. So, we’ll approach the game trying to score goals. That will be our approach going into this game.”
The depth in the Pirates’ squad is a stark contrast to that at Chiefs.
The former will be without marksman Gabadinho Mhango, while Lorch, Terrence Dzvukamanja and Thulani Hlatshwayo were doubts for today’s clash due to injuries.
But with the marquee signings and last season’s players at their disposal, Davids shouldn’t have a problem filling in the holes, need be. But for Hunt, on the other hand, Chiefs’ enforced non-signing policy has put his back against the wall.
The Glamour Boys, in their bid to end their five-year trophyless run, have disappointedly scored two goals in five matches this season, while their destabilised defence has conceded seven since the start. Hunt, a master tactician that has four champions and four domestic trophies under his belt, knows that not all is lost until the fat lady sings. And that’s why going into this afternoon’s clash at home, his charges cannot afford to sit back.
“I don’t think we were very good on the day or they were good as well. I think the goals we conceded were from some real bad areas committed,” Hunt said. “But we really had some good chances and if we scored first, it would be a different game. but we can’t talk about that.” Hunt added: “We’ve got try to score the first goal of the game. I think that will change the complex of the game a little bit.”