JOHANNESBURG - While consistency has eluded Premier Soccer League title holders Bidvest Wits this season, with the Clever Boys registering just nine points from 11 games, winger Vincent Pule has had no such problems.
And he is desperate to take the same kind of form into Saturday evening’s Telkom Knockout (TKO) final against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu outside Durban. Kick-off is at 6pm.
“The coach believes in me and I am starting to believe in myself,” said Pule, who has enjoyed more starts at Wits this season than in the previous three years.
“My confidence is high up and I am finally contributing something. As a player you want to do well in every game regardless of how the team is doing.
"You can’t drop your head because you have to keep going. When I am on the pitch, I want to give my all.”
But Pule is obviously not completely satisfied as the Clever Boys can’t buy a win in the league, which is hurting their dream of retaining the championship.
“You know cup games are different,” he said, explaining why Wits have brushed aside hoodoo side Free State Stars, PSL log leaders Baroka FC and Kaizer Chiefs in the different rounds of the TKO to set up a final with Celtic.
“When you’ve won the league, every team that comes up against you wants to fight you, but we owe it to ourselves to put in more of an effort.
"Yes, we are trying, but I think we can try harder so that we can come out of it. I can’t really tell you what is wrong, but I believe we will fight until we get out of that situation.”
Wits have already lost once to Celtic this season - a narrow 1-0 defeat in October at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium. Pule didn’t feature then, but it didn’t stop him from taking notes ahead of Saturday’s cup clash.
“They pass the ball around very well and I think if we play a pressing game, constrict them to their own half, we can win the game,” he said.
“We have the advantage because they lost their most recent game. You can argue that maybe they are favourites if you look at our form and theirs in the league, but we will put in enough effort to win.”
Wits’ chances this weekend could also be boosted by the return to action of captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Nazeer Allie.
Their championship-winning back four, which had been dismantled because of lengthy injuries to that duo as well as Buhle Mkhwanazi, could spell a revival all on its own.
“These guys have played together over a number of games," said Pule.
"I don’t like to single out players but as a team we did not defend well. But we now have the stability of having Buhle and everyone back.
“For some of us, the work towards keeping a clean sheet starts up front, so that when the ball gets to the defenders they know they can do the job.
"But we have not been doing our job and that’s been part of the problem.”