JOHANNESBURG – Baroka FC coach Wedson Nyirenda is aware of the depth within Orlando Pirates’ squad ahead of their clash in the Telkom Knockout final at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday (6pm).
It’s been a dream march for Bakgaga to the cup final – in the last-16 they beat Golden Arrows 2-0, while they pulled off a surprise win over Mamelodi Sundowns with the same score in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, they knocked-out defending champions Bidvest Wits 1-0. Furthermore, they played all three matches at home.
“Pirates is the biggest team that’s well organised, right now,” Nyirenda said. “They have a very good crop of players; I think they can make three to four good teams. They’ve got a good depth but we’ve also come far, as a result we’ve met equally good teams in the league. We also come to this game with clean sheets, while they’ve also been scoring goals – so I think that we match when we come to this game.”
Since beating arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in the semi-finals, Pirates have had to juggle between the Absa Premiership and continental football – playing three games in total. On the other hand, this will be Bakgaga’s first match since eliminating the Clever Boys from the competition two weeks back.
Compared to their counterpart who are at the summit of the PSL standings, Nyirenda and his troops have endured some trying times in the league. They are placed 14th with 10 points from 12 matches. The former Kaizer Chiefs striker is convinced that their extended break gave them time to work on their league preparations.
“I think we’ve had a longer period to prepare for this match but we’ve also got in mind the league because we are not at a very good position,” Nyirenda said. “We’ve got a big game that’s coming up after this game, so we’ve been preparing for Pirates and (Mamelodi) Sundowns. The best way to prepare is to tell the players to enjoy whatever that they are doing in training. It begins there, and you cannot go to a wedding ceremony without rehearsing and expect to do a good thing for the people.”
While it’s the club’s maiden cup final, Bakgaga are likely to take the “underdog” tag going into the encounter that will be hosted at the World Cup stadium in Port Elizabeth. Although the Bucs are looking for their maiden trophy since May 2014, Nyirenda believes that for some of his troops this could be the turning point that will define the rest of their careers.
“We are going into this game against a team that has won major cups, while we have zero on our side. We need it more than them,” Nyirenda explained. “I think that every player in the team knows what is expected of them. A few of them have won trophies, while for some this could be the first and only one for the rest of their careers.”