JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates will be eager to return to winning ways when they host Stellenbosch FC in a Telkom Knockout round of 16 clash at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
Pressure continues to mount on the Buccaneers coaching staff as they aim to break their trophy drought. Having been bundled out by Highlands Park in the opening round of the MTN8, Pirates will be desperate not to suffer a similar fate at home to the top-flight rookies.
Pirates coach Rhulani Mokwena is aware of the pressure he faces to bring glory back to the famous club.
"I need air to breathe. Pirates need trophies," said Mokwena. "A club of Orlando Pirates’ magnitude is a club that needs to be winning trophies. I don’t need the trophies, Pirates need the trophies.
"We are playing a tough team in Stellenbosch, who have a very experienced coach. We are facing a team that is trying to make a name for itself at this level, so we have a lot of work to do against them."
Stellenbosch are on a high after securing their first-ever top-flight win – 2-0 away to Polokwane City with goals from Waseem Isaacs and Iqraam Rayners – earlier this month. The Cape side has gone unbeaten in their last three matches and will hope to bring that momentum into the match against Pirates.
The Cape Winelands club will be making their debut appearance in the Telkom Knockout following their promotion to South Africa’s top-flight earlier this year.
"It was tough in the beginning (to the season),” said Stellenbosch boss Steve Barker. “The pace in the PSL is a lot quicker. We did struggle, but against Polokwane City we started with seven players who played in the National First Division. That was massive for us, and that’s good. They are finding their feet now.”
For Pirates, a player to watch for is Tshegofatso Mabasa, who has scored four goals in his last three games. He is the league’s form striker heading into this weekend’s round of cup fixtures.
For Stellenbosch, Isaacs is in great form and has netted four goals in his last four games.
African News Agency (ANA)