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Football | Nedbank Cup

Lucky Lekgwathi © Backpagepix

Tricky Cup tie awaits Pirates



Orlando Pirates have to face a United FC side lying in wait, the NFD side are out to ambush the Soweto giants’ dreams of Nedbank Cup glory. Catch the action live on SS4

The two sides meet in a Nedbank Cup last 16 fixture, scheduled for the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday night, kick-off at 8:15pm.

It’s not quite a David v Goliath clash – United are by no means minnows from the amateur ranks – the Free State outfit may be second from bottom in the Inland Stream of the first division, but they possess several experienced campaigners in their playing squad.

These include captain Junior Khanye, a former Kaizer Chiefs star, as well as former Celtic and Pirates midfielder Thembile Kanono, and former Swallows and Sundowns striker, Lungisani Ndlela.

The man leading United into battle will be coach Aschwin Sutton, who will be testing his skills against Bucs mentor Ruud Krol.

While United need just a point from three league games to guarantee their first division status, the Buccaneers have a bigger distraction – they are still very much in the mix for league title honours.

“History has shown in SA soccer that not many teams, if any, win the league and cup double.

“So I’m hoping Pirates will be focussing more on the league and that this will be a distraction for them, especially after their loss to Ajax in the Premiership,” said Sutton.

He is bracing his side from an all-out attack from Pirates – even if Krol elects to rest some players, the Sea Robbers have more than adequate replacements.

“The whole team is a threat, as a unit. They complement each other going forward, they complement each other at the back.

“If I had to single out two players for special attention though it would be Mark Mayambela and Tlou Segolela,” explains Sutton.

“It was a surprise to me because I felt our home stadium is capable of hosting a match like this. “It’s a pity, because the game has been taken away from the supporters, its going to cost them to travel to Bloemfontein and this is not fair. But my team is fit and ready, we’re looking forward to giving Pirates a tough game,” he added.

Amabhakabhaka go into this game on the back of a 3-0 league loss to Ajax Cape Town and will be hoping for a positive result in the Cup, ahead of their next match – a tough league encounter with Moroka Swallows.

Pirates skipper Lucky Lekgwathi says his team are aware that United will be out to perform a giant-killing act, something Bucs have suffered from in the past.

“We just need to play our normal game and not underestimate them, we must give them the respect they deserve. Whenever we play lower division sides, they give us a hard time. I remember in 2006 when we played Silver Stars, when they were still in the lower division, and they beat us,” said the veteran defender.

“Its always difficult to play against a lower division team – they want to prove a point, they want to show that they are good enough to play in the PSL.

“But we’re mentally and physically ready, we’ve bounced back from defeats before this season,” he stated.

A potential distraction for Bucs, apart from the upcoming clash with the Birds, is a lengthy list of players that are a booking away from a suspension.

Senzo Meyiwa, Reuben Cloete, Robyn Johannes, Rooi Mahamutsa, Katlego Mashego, Patrick Malokoase, Lekghwathi, Isaac Chansa, Chiukepo Msowoya are all on two yellow cards.

Krol will have to decide whether he risks playing any of these players, and if he does, their performances could just be undermined by the threats hanging over their heads, or so Sutton and his charges will be hoping.

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