...and still counting

2011-12-17 20:51

Last month we ran a story that asked why Orlando Pirates were on their knees.

At the time, the club had already lost four Absa Premiership matches out of 11, which is the same number they lost on their way to annexing the title last season.

They were eighth on the log.

Today as they face Bloemfontein Celtic at Seisa Ramabodu they are placed sixth after winning their last two league matches.

There were reports of squabbles within the club as players were said to be divided into different camps and the coach was blamed for having lost control of the change room.

On the same weekend, they beat Lamontville Golden Arrows 3-1 to reach the final of the Telkom Knockout.

They have since ended SuperSport United’s unbeaten run in the league, walloping them 3-0, and for good measure went on to beat Bidvest Wits 3-1 to lift the Telkom crown as their fifth trophy in 16 months.

Hence the good days are back for the supporters who fashion themselves as “the Happy People”.

This augurs well for the club’s 75th birthday next year which will come on the back of a trophy-laden season.

If ever there was a pleasant coincidence it is that Buccaneers’ anniversary arrives at a time when the club’s Parktown cabinet has all the trophies on offer in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

There is even a new joke doing the rounds that Bucs’ skipper Lucky Lekgwathi does not bother to go the gym these days as he lifts cups rather than pumping iron.

The mere fact that chairperson Irvin Khoza wanted to be the South African Football Association (Safa) president and failed – withdrawing during the elections – turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the club.

With a bit of an extra time on his hands now, at least the “Iron Duke” is paying full attention to the tradition-steeped club.

He has made good on his promise that at the end of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, for which he chaired the organising committee, he would focus all his energy on the Buccaneers.

After Pirates clinched a treble – the MTN8 Cup, Nedbank Cup and the Absa Premiership – last season, there seemed no stopping them.

In the past the club struggled largely because Khoza was wearing too many hats, having virtually no time for the team, while ill-discipline overshadowed the team’s performance.

At the moment Khoza serves as the PSL chairperson and by virtue of that position, he is Safa’s vice-president.

The arrival of quality acquisitions in the past year such as Daine Klate, Reuben Cloete, Siyabonga Sangweni and Benni McCarthy has given Pirates a competitive edge.

Recruiting Bafana Bafana’s all-time leading scorer McCarthy from the English Premiership side West Ham United in August has already yielded positive results.

Although he still has a few kilos to shed, McCarthy’s goals and assists have already helped the club to two trophies and the 34-year-old was named the best striker of the Telkom Knockout.

Pirates had successfully defended the MTN8 title three months earlier.

In fact Pirates have won four of the five Cup finals they played in, only missing out on last season’s Telkom Knockout after losing to Kaizer Chiefs in the final.

Pirates remain the only club from southern Africa to have won the CAF Champions League trophy.

Reconciliation Day on Friday marked 16 years since captain Edward Motale hoisted the continental cup in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in 1995.

The Buccaneers will begin their African adventure next year in an attempt to add a second golden star above the club’s crest.

And there is still the Absa Premiership and the Nedbank Cup to fight for.

Chances are that if you see a person licking their lips in anticipation, they belong to the plethora of Happy People.

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