‘Pirates are making excuses’

2011-02-24 00:00

THE Orlando Pirates camp have been talking up a potential injury crisis ahead of Saturday’s Soweto Derby against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium, but Amakhosi coach Vladimir Vermezovic is having nothing of it.

Pirates have already been hit by the long-term injury ruling instrumental left wing Daine Klate out for the rest of the season.

Klate’s natural replacement, Tlou Segolela, is suspended for Saturday’s big Premier Soccer League encounter between first-placed Pirates and second-placed Chiefs.

Moeneeb Josephs was a casualty of the Buccaneers’ 1-1 draw against AmaZulu at Orlando Stadium on Sunday, and some reports have the Bafana Bafana goalkeeper out for the rest of the season.

Adding to these absentees Pirates have been highlighting doubts over Thulasizwe Mbuyane, the player earmarked to stand in for Klate and Segolela on the left, and young Bafana defensive midfielder Andile Jali.

Vermezovic, though, believes the Buccaneers have been exaggerating their situation ahead of Saturday’s Derby.

“They say they have a lot of problems with injuries, but I don’t believe it,” the Serbian told Kickoff.com yesterday.

“I can’t believe that someone can be injured for a game like that. As a player I will play this game with one leg. My colleague [Pirates counterpart Ruud Krol] has more headaches than me because of injuries, but I don’t believe it.”

Vermezovic, who cheekily played up his team’s chances ahead of their last meeting against Pirates — the Telkom Knockout final, which Chiefs won 3-0 — said Saturday’s game would decide who ruled football in Gauteng this season.

“We have to make the final decision about who is the boss in Soweto and Joburg,” the coach said.

Chiefs have established a psychological dominance over the Bucs in the last two derbies, with the December Telkom final preceded by a 3-1 victory to Amakhosi in a league encounter in November.

With Chiefs and Pirates involved in a thrilling three-way tussle for the league title with Ajax Cape Town for the league title, Saturday’s result could prove crucial in the final standings.

Third-placed Ajax will fancy their chances of beating Free State Stars at Athlone Stadium tomorrow night.

Vermezovic also made light of predictions that the Derby is likely to end in a draw.

“I saw [SuperSport TV analysts Farouk] Khan and Doctor Khumalo saying it might end in a draw and at the end of the day it can be a draw, but I know we are not going to play for a draw — we are going for a win.

“We are full of confidence, we are in a good mood.

“Pirates are favourites because they are two points in front of us. We are hunters and we will try to catch them.”

Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who prides himself on keeping clean sheets, chuckled when asked about conceding goals in recent matches.

“It will be a tough match … but I am sure that if we go top [of the league] we will maintain that until the end,” the Bafana goalkeeper said.

“I always want a clean sheet and my thinking is no different for this game. But what is more important is for us to win.”

PSL Chief Operations Officer Ronnie Schloss has played down fears about the FNB pitch, which had its turf removed for the U2 concert, which was only relaid this week.

“Obviously the pitch will not be the same after the turf was removed to allow the concert to take place about 10 days ago.

“However, I inspected the field yesterday and can confirm that it is in a playable condition although it will not be the same as before,” Schloss told Kickoff.com.

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