JOHANNESBURG – The chaos that could ensue in Orlando Pirates’ clash with Platinum Stars on Saturday at Royal Bafokeng Stadium will be a familiar sight for the Buccaneers, one they hope not to see again as they move away from last season’s disappointment.
Thabo Mokgatle – a businessman who leads a joint venture by Machipa Legacy Foundation, NPC and 368 Engineering that seeks to buy the Dikwena - has called on their fans to boycott the match as he alleges that Stars could be sold to people from outside North West.
Mokgatle has been critical of the administration led by chairman Cliff Ramoroa, accusing it of corruption and mismanagement. This spat further compounds the club’s woes as they struggle to move from the bottom of the log with the dreaded axe looming large. Roger de Sa is Stars’ second coach having replaced Peter Butler who was fired after just two games. Ramoroa revealed at the start of the season that the club will be up for sale but will only be sold to people who will keep it in the region.
The Buccaneers’ problems from last season weren’t this political, but they were hectic nonetheless.
Pirates were managed by three coaches in a season they finished outside the top eight for the first time in the Premier Soccer League-era. A group of their fans stormed Loftus Versfeld last year in the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns.
They tried to attack their own players but failed and they ended up clashing with a group of Sundowns’ supporters who kept them from entering the change rooms. But all of that feels like a lifetime ago in what has been a gradual turn-around under coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic who describes himself as a Pirates’ fan before he is the coach. The Sea Robbers’ ship is in calmer waters now while Dikwena are trying to avoiding sinking with the drama on-and-off the field pulling them down.
“The club has noted with concern reports on various social media platforms and on radio that supporters are urged by disgruntled individuals to boycott our match against Orlando Pirates,” a statement from Dikwena reads.
“The club, its management, and safety office would like to affirm that all measures have been taken into consideration to ensure safety and ease of access to the stadium precinct for all those who will be attending the match. Our safety office together with the SAPS (South African Police Services) have ensured that all security plans are in place and have been accepted and approved by the PSL.”
This chaos – the club’s uncertain future, fighting to avoid relegation and a possible boycott – will test the players’ mental strength. The Buccaneers will look to capitalise on that, knowing well how a team low in morale can be easily blown away by the competition like it was the case with them in the last campaign. Pirates were ruthless in their first two matches this year before they stole a point from Polokwane City in their last games. The two matches, against Baroka FC and Mamelodi Sundowns, showed what the Buccaneers are capable of.
“We will do anything possible, from all aspects - with theoretical awareness, mental strength, physical fitness, technical effectiv eness and tactical competitiveness - to keep the consistency,” Sredojevic said. “It’s pointless to look at ifs and whats. We got what we got (against Polokwane). We will pick up the pieces and continue the process.