Rhulani Mokwena insists that the Buccaneers are on an upward trajectory. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

DURBAN – Orlando Pirates have been bundled out of the Caf Champions League, MTN8 and now the Telkom Knockout under the tenure of the loquacious Rhulani Mokwena but he insists he is not feeling any pressure.

The Buccaneers were dumped out of the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals by their bitter rivals Kaizer Chiefs who beat them 4-2 on penalties on Saturday at the Moses Mabhida Stadium after the team were deadlocked at 2-2 after extra time.

In the space of three months, Pirates have been knocked out of three competitions as their trophy drought which stretches back to 2014 looks set to continue. Even in the PSL they are way behind log leaders Chiefs, but Mokwena isn’t worried.

“For us we don’t feel the pressure. For us, we don’t feel the crisis. Ours is to make sure now that we stay consistent because we’ve proven that we can win games. We have to find that bit of consistency and win two games, four games in a row and that’s what we (will) focus on,” Mokwena said.

Matches are coming in thick and fast for Mokwena. Tomorrow they will entertain a resurgent Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium in the league.

“I need to put things into perspective. Let us look at Orlando Pirates’ last five games including this one against Kaizer Chiefs. It ended 2-2 and we lose on penalties. Unfortunately this one we lose it to our bitter rivals,” Mokwena said.

“That is difficult to swallow because we feel that we should have won the game. Midweek we went to Makholung Stadium where Pirates have struggled to get three points and for the first time we picked up three points.”

The Buccaneers need to find their rhythm and win games on a consistent basis. Winning two games in five matches at a club like Pirates is not good enough.

“So, in Pirates’ last five matches, there’s two wins, two draws and one defeat. If that is not an upward trajectory and you don’t see that as progress then I don’t know what it is,” Mokwena said.

Pirates will now have to compete for the league and the Nedbank Cup. Truth be told, it is going to be difficult for them to conjure up a major comeback and win the league title. It is too early, but they don’t look like a team that can challenge for the championship. They are a team under construction.

Samir Nurkovic of Kaizer Chiefs is challenged by Ntsikelelo Nyauza of Orlando Pirates during their Telkom Knockout quarter-final match at Moses Mabhida Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu BackpagePix

“No team can win every single game. From where we came, from losing games and conceding goals week in and week out, we’ve managed to stabilise the ship,” Mokwena said.

“The reality is that we are two points off top spots. It makes the very next league game very important so that we can get a little bit closer to competing for the championship. That’s what we have to focus on right now.”

Pirates have lacked the consistency that saw them finish second in the league last season.

“There’s lot of progress and positives. It is like I said to you, if you look at the results and you don’t consider penalties then you understand that out of the last five games, we’ve won two, drawn two and lost one,” Mokwena concluded.



The Mercury

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