JOHANNESBURG – Wedson Nyirenda says he told his players to cut the supply to Bidvest Wits’ wing play to stage Baroka FC’s shock 1-0 win in the Telkom Knockout semi-finals on Sunday afternoon.
That then, is how Bakgaga managed to negotiate their way past the defending champions to book a date in the final against Orlando Pirates on December 8.
Matome Mabeba struck what would eventually be the winning goal at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in the eighth minute from a well-taken free kick, following experienced defender Buhle Mkhwanazi’s schoolboy error outside the penalty box.
“Wits had so many avenues of attack,” said Nyirenda, who will now lead Baroka to their first ever cup final in what is also the coach’s maiden PSL season.
“And that is their strength. So we saw what they were doing and we put down measures to cut that - their wing play, which is very strong in this league because they have scored many goals from their wing play. We made sure that we dealt with that...and they are also very good in midfield when it comes to picking up the second ball. We made sure we closed them down.”
The Clever Boys were visibly frustrated as Nyirenda’s counterpart Gavin Hunt was quick to ring the changes - bringing on former Baroka forward Gift Motupa for the ineffective Deon Hotto immediately following the break.
But Bakgaga remained resolute.
“Even from their set-plays we made sure we did not give them any opportunities,” said the Zambian-born mentor. “That killed them because they started playing long balls, which we welcome because we had people to challenge and fight. So that gave us the impetus to move forward.”
While the football fraternity was full of praise for a side reaching a cup final after only three seasons in the elite league, Nyirenda said his own mandate when he took the job at the start of the season was to “win things”.
He said: “This is how I have been. When I came in I said I am a man who goes to finals, I believe in winning championships. I went to Mozambique and I was in the final of the national cups and I won the league for the first time for them (Ferroviario de Beira). In Zambia I cannot count, there are so many medals in my house I don’t know where to put the one I am going to get from Pirates.”
Pirates beat Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 on Saturday to secure a place in the final, which will be played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.@superjourno