Pirates ‘feeling the pressure’

2010-10-01 00:00

ORLANDO Pirates are feeling the pressure of a trophyless seven years, assistant coach Craig Rosslee admitted in a press conference at Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday ahead of tomorrow night’s MTN8 final against Moroka Swallows.

The Buccaneers last had their hands on a major trophy when they won the league title in 2003. The last time they won a cup trophy was 11 years ago in the 1999/2000 Top Eight.

It’s a barren run that will have created a mountain of expectation from the team’s multitude of fans, and this is what the Bucs coaching staff have to work to minimise if Pirates are to end their drought tomorrow night, Rosslee said.

“The pressure on the team, which we have to take away from them, is that the club hasn’t won a major trophy in seven years. But … this is a fantastic opportunity for the club to try and get hold of some silverware,” the assistant to Ruud Krol said.

“For me it’s important for the players to not think about it [the pressure], to try and win some silverware, and then hopefully that will set the platform for the league.”

Swallows’ major concern will be whether veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvethe, enjoying an Indian summer at the Dube Birds, will be available. The KZN-born forward had an operation on Tuesday to a dislocated right wrist bone sustained during his match-winning performance in Swallows’ semi-final victory against Ajax Cape Town.

“I have decided nothing yet,” Swallows coach Rainer Zobel said. “Nomvethe will have two trainings — this morning and tomorrow — and then I will make a decision.

“The last decision will not be by me, but by the referee an hour before the game, because he cannot play without plaster and it must be decided safe that he cannot injure the other players.

“I spoke with him yesterday and he wants to play, so if he is allowed to I won’t stop him.”

Zobel said, should Nomvethe not play, his team showed it has cover in the second leg against Ajax, where Sicelo Zuma came off the bench to score the winner.

A feature of Zobel’s Swallows this season, apart from being well organised, has been their fighting spirit. They clawed back from 2-0 down to draw a league game away to AmaZulu, and in the MTN semis lost a 2-0 advantage, and the momentum, but bounced back to win 3-2.

“It’s a long time since I’ve had such a good team character-wise,” Zobel said. “More important than coming back against AmaZulu was leading 2-0 against Ajax, going to 2-2, and then you saw what they [my players] want. They wanted to go to the final.”

The former Bayern Munich midfielder said his team have a chance of proving wrong those who have written off their trophy chances.

“Three days ago I said we are the ‘underdog favourites’,” he said. “I think the performance on the day will make the difference and not the past.

“We have our chance. Some journalists told us we have no chance, but this is a ‘no chance’ we will take.”

Pirates, though, have been flexing the muscle they have gained by making some impressive signings in the off-season, probably the deciding factor in Bucs being the better team over 180 minutes of their semi-final against Kaizer Chiefs, won 2-1 on aggregate.

“Daine [Klate] had a fantastic first half [in the second leg] and we really put Chiefs on the back foot,” Rosslee said. “Tlou [Segolela] is a fantastically exciting player when he comes on.

“[Dikgang] Mabalane came back into the team and he looks in good form. And then Mark Mayambela changed the game too in the last couple of minutes.

“Besides the fact that we had a good result, I think the players have taken a step up now. We’ve been asking them to do that.

“We have a big squad with lots of strong players and everybody’s fighting for a place. It’s exciting times for the club and it bodes well for the season.”

With just 4  000 of the 55 000 available tickets left by yesterday afternoon the match is a guaranteed sellout.

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