Birds set for ‘different ball game’ against Bucs

2008-11-03 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Moroka Swallows will not repeat the mistakes they made last Wednesday when they host arch-rivals Orlando Pirates in what promises to be a mouth-watering Telkom Knockout quarter-final showdown at Rustenburg’s Olympia Park on Saturday night.

The high-flying Birds lost 1-0 to the Buccaneers at a rain-soaked Ellis Park in their Absa Premiership clash last Wednesday.

Said Birds’ assistant coach Zeca Marques: “The pouring rain did not suit either side last Wednesday. It suited us even less as we were unable to play our normal passing game. We were not comfortable under those conditions. But it will be a totally different ball game Saturday night. We aim to avenge that defeat.”

Marques said head coach Julio Cesar Leal will make sure Pirates are closed down and that his defence is tight this time round.

The Birds had a wakeup call when they were held to a 2-2 draw by league tail-enders Bloemfontein Celtic at their Olympia Park fortress on Sunday. Swallows found themselves trailing 2-0, but fought back to share the points.

Said Marques: “I was shell-shocked when Celtic went into a 2-0 lead. I could not believe what I was seeing. We woke up late and got caught sleeping. We were also caught out on the counter on the right-hand side twice where Celtic scored their goals. We will be guarding against that happening again when we play Pirates. We will learn from this lesson. We will close the door on Pirates and play it safe at the back.”

The Birds enjoy playing their home matches at Olympia Park and are unbeaten in their league and cup matches played in their Rustenburg stronghold this season. They have two wins and two draws from four fixtures played there so far.

“Olympia Park will give us an edge over Pirates,” explained Marques. “The pitch is absolutely brilliant and suits our passing style of play. Also, the facilities are first-class and are a big plus factor for us.”

Pirates also slipped up at the weekend when, after leading 1-0, they had to settle for a 1-1 away draw against Free State Stars. Bucs’ only league win this season was that 1-0 win against their Soweto rivals.

Said Marques: “We are not worried about any individual at Pirates, but we will do our homework on the team as a whole and make sure that we achieve our goal of reaching the Knockout final by getting rid of Pirates in this next hurdle.”

The Birds are injury-free and that means that the danger for Bucs will come from the revived David Radebe, his strike partner, Ace Bhengu, and hard-working midfielders Lefa Tsutsulupa, Mark Haskins and Cecil Oerson.

Kick-off is at 8 pm. — Sapa.

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