Lekgwathi looks to settle a score

2010-08-19 00:00

THE BP Top Eight clash howler against Santos at Johannesburg Stadium in 2002 still haunts Lucky Lekgwathi.

This was not the ideal debut for the Orlando Pirates defender, who had joined from the now defunct Ria Stars.

An intended back pass by the industrious Lekgwati to goalkeeper William Okpara ended up being intercepted by Fees Moloi, who made no mistake to put Santos 2-1 up.

The goal signalled the end of the clash as the golden goal rule applied at that time.

That Lekgwathi went on to win the League medal (under Roy Barreto) has not erased that blunder in his memory.

He admitted as much when speaking to The Witness last night.

“Eish man, please don’t bring that up because it still hurts me,” said Lekgwathi, before adding, “ … you know when you are new to a team and the large crowd scared the hell out of me.”

Santos, led by wily coach Boebie Solomons, went on to win the game after Mauritian international Jean-Marc Ithier cancelled the late Gift Leremi’s scorcher that beat Bafana Bafana goalie Andre Arendse hands down.

Now Lekgwathi, long-serving member of Pirates, wants to avenge that defeat by leading his side to MTN8 Cup Wafa Wafa glory.

As luck would have it, Lekgwati has to negotiate a way to glory past the self-same Santos at Orlando Stadium on Sunday at 3 pm.

The former Bafana Bafana international admitted beating the Cape Town side won’t be easy.

“They are tough to beat, whether it’s cup or league fixtures. But luckily we’re playing at home and will have our many supporters spurring us on.”

Pirates’ empty cabinet is well documented and Lekgwati does not want to be reminded of the situation.

He only has the Absa Premiership medal to show off for the eight seasons spent at Pirates.

He hopes new recruits like Bafana Bafana international winger Daine Klate, midfielders Mark Mayambela and Clifford Ngobeni and strikers Patrick Malokase and big Nigerian Ezenwa Otorogu will attract the elusive luck.

“I have been impressed with their level of commitment and attitude since they arrived in the camp.

“I just hope Daine’s experience of winning some silverware rubs off on us.”

Lekgwati is the surviving member of the team that met the People’s Team eight seasons ago. Santos have veteran Musa Onyango-Otieno and winger Tyrene Arendse, who flirted with Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns for a while.

Solomons warned Pirates and other teams to be wary of his side. Speaking at a press conference after training, Solomons was clearly proud of his side’s superior fitness and no doubt feels this could pave the way to victory over the Buccaneers on Sunday.

“We just had our last physical testing on Saturday and there is some good news: of all the teams that have been tested at the Sports Science Centre, Santos is the fittest team ever.

“We have really climbed the ladder with our own fitness levels and slowly, slowly we are catching up with the rest of the world. The modern game requires this because of the mobility, the amount of running, movement and assists that are needed,” he explained.

Solomons truly believes the Cape Town team can make a serious challenge for cup honours.

“Pirates are one of the best teams in Africa, and playing a team like Pirates is never an easy game.

“But we have so much confidence in ourselves. Last season we beat Pirates at the same venue.”

Solomons will pin his hopes on strikers Erwin Isaacs, Phikolethu Spelman and Eleazar Rodgers and wingers Graham King, Romano Scott and Tony Tsabedze.

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