Bucs brace for ‘bigger, better and stronger’ opponents

2013-08-13 17:18

“Bigger, better and stronger”, was how Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa described Zamalek, comparing them with fellow Egyptian club Al Ahly.

The Buccaneers stunned holders Al Ahly in an African Champions League encounter in Egypt earlier this month, with an unprecedented 3-0 away victory and were hoping to complete a double over the Cairo duo when they met Zamalek at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

De Sa said: “Al Ahly have built an illustrious record over the years and they are still a pretty formidable combination in spite of our recent victory over them in Egypt.

“But our scouts in Egypt have told us to expect even tougher opposition, against a physically bigger and stronger Zamalek combination, who currently have an edge over their traditional derby rivals.

“The videos I have been studying of several of Zamalek’s matches, with my technical staff, only seem to confirm this assessment.”

De Sa intended to field a similar line-up on Saturday to the one which caught Al Ahly on the wrong foot with an early goal, and the Pirates coach hoped to begin the next match in the same vein.

But the coach said burly Zambian international striker Collins Mbesuma had only a 50% chance of reporting fit after incurring an injury in the MTN8 victory over SuperSport United on Sunday.

Also, tricky former SuperSport United striker Kermit Erasmus remained cup-tied because he had represented his former club in a CAF competition this year.

Unlike their Champions League game in Egypt, where only a handful of spectators were allowed into the stadium – because of the political unrest which had gripped the country – De Sa was hoping for a vociferous army of supporters to provide vocal support for the Buccaneers.

In this respect, De Sa said he found it curious two such major attractions – Pirates’ crucial Champions League match and the Nelson Mandela Day programme at FNB Stadium, featuring both Bafana Bafana and the Springboks – should be taking place “on the same day and only a few kilometres away from each other”.

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