Wits hope to keep Bucs in check

2014-08-16 00:00

BIDVEST Wits will be looking to dictate proceedings when they host Orlando Pirates in the first leg of their MTN8 semi-final at Bidvest Stadium tomorrow. Kick-off is at 3 pm.

The Clever Boys, who finished third in the Premiership last season, reached the last four by registering a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Bloemfontein Celtic after the match finished goalless at the end of extra time.

Gavin Hunt’s side lost 2-1 to the Buccaneers in the final of the Nedbank Cup at the end of last season and goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane says the whole team are eager to turn the tables.

“A lot of the guys still have the pain of losing to Pirates in the Nedbank Cup final. It’s one of those things that the guys have spoken about at training,” Mabokgwane said. “They have also encouraged those of us who were not with the team during the game.

“In a two-leg tie, you have to make sure that you don’t concede in the first game, especially since it’s our home game and the away goal rule may come into effect.

“It’s important that we deny Pirates an away goal and in the second leg we’ll have to try and score in their stadium.

“It’s not going to be easy because they are an attacking side and they have a lot of top players but we will plan for the game and make sure that we are prepared tactically and mentally.”

The Clever Boys are unbeaten in two league matches so far this season, beating SuperSport United 1-0 in their opening game before playing to a 1-1 draw against University of Pretoria.

Pirates ended fourth on the Premiership table last season and defeated SuperSport United 2-1 in the previous round to reach the semi-finals.

Since then, the Buccaneers have failed to register a win in two league matches, losing 2-1 to Moroka Swallows before fighting back to force a 2-2 draw against Bloemfontein Celtic.

Nonetheless, coach Vladimir Vermezovic is confident that his side will be more effective in front of goal against Wits.

“We’re going to play every game as a final. It’s very important for us to score in the first leg,” he said. “But in this league, anyone can beat anyone.

“Our team played four finals last season and they know what to expect from this game.”

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