It’s payback time

Lehlohonolo Majoro, left, and George Maluleka, right
Lehlohonolo Majoro, left, and George Maluleka, right

Tinkler out for revenge in Soweto derby for 2-0 defeat in first match as Pirates coach

PAYBACK for the previous Soweto derby, earning points to finish as high as possible and keeping the Premiership title race alive are the motivation for Orlando Pirates to beat Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium tomorrow.

Pirates coach Eric Tinkler has steered his side to five matches unbeaten, four of those wins, to have the PSL’s fourth-placed Buccaneers back on an upward course in a season that had been left in some disarray by predecessor Vladimir Vermezovic’s departure in December.

Tinkler admitted yesterday he would love revenge for the 2-0 defeat his side had suffered in his first match as coach after taking over from Vermezovic.

“We prepare for every game the same way, and that is to try to collect the three points.

“Obviously for myself, and for the team, it would be great to get the result as a bit of payback for the last one,” Tinkler said.

“And we do want to keep the league interesting – I don’t think anyone wants to see Chiefs win the title with five or six games still to play.

“We’ve said we want to finish as high as we can. We have nine matches left and 27 points to play for.”

Pirates are effectively out of the championship trophy race, 14 points behind leaders Chiefs.

Bucs’ strength in attack, and a threat to a remarkably stingy Chiefs defence that has conceded a miserly 10 goals in 21 games, is their on-form strike partnership of Kermit Erasmus and Lehlohonolo Majoro.

Tinkler would give nothing away at potentially utilising the explosive combination to hit the Amakhosi early on and earn an advantage.

“Major [Majoro], Kermit, Lennox [Bacela], they’re all scoring goals. But others are contributing, like Thandani Ntshumayelo and Oupa Manyisa,” the former Bafana Bafana midfielder said.

“It is a team sport, not about individuals. When Kermit or Major score, the team wins. That’s what I’ve been trying to reiterate to the players.”

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter said of the Bucs’ strike pair: “Kermit and Major are very talented. So you know they’re going to give you some problems in any game.”

“But I do not think we have said those two players are in form so we have to earmark them, because I don’t think we play that way. We collectively stop them.

“We would probably have all four defenders making sure they don’t get space. And I think as well as they are playing we have the defence capable of dealing with them.”

Baxter would not confirm, but hinted that Itumeleng Khune, as a senior player, would keep his goalkeeper position from rival Brilliant Khuzwayo after a strong performance in the Amakhosi’s 1-0 midweek win against Ajax Cape Town at FNB Stadium.

“I thought Itu [Khune] did really well. In some three or four situations he was really authoritative, dealing with crosses and clearing.

“And that’s what you’re looking for from a goalkeeper,” the coach said.

“We go into the derby and the team is not selected yet. We’ve had some issues with injuries.

“But I have been happy with Itu’s performance and his experience would be valuable in the derby.”

Chiefs had key midfielder George Maluleka back from injury against Ajax.

-Marc Strydom

 

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