Thrashed 4-2 at Wits on Wednesday night, the Urban Warriors take on a Pirates side that seems to have finally rediscovered their mojo after about two months of hardship.
“The team spirit of old is back,” said Lennox Bacela on Wednesday night. “We’re a team now. The singing in the dressing room is back and at the end of the game a lot of people agreed that they saw a better Pirates this time.”
While they needed to come from behind to hold Mamelodi Sundowns 1-1 thanks to Bacela’s strike, Eric Tinkler’s team were generally the better side on the night.
Unlike in recent matches when they appeared to lack in drive and confidence, the Buccaneers were an inspired lot at Orlando Stadium as they ran at Sundowns.
In midfield Issa Sarr was a workhorse and at the back Siyabonga Sangweni performed like a man keen to prove he is far from being past his sell-by-date as had been suggested by some in recent weeks. Up front, Bacela and Kermit Erasmus proved the club’s assertion that their lone-striker strategy was the best way to go as a myth by combining to cancel out Khama Billiat’s goal.
Tinkler is likely to persist with the two against Ajax, and Bacela in particular could prove dangerous for Roger de Sa’s team.
Given a rare start this season, the 31-year-old striker duly grabbed the opportunity as he not only scored but even hit the upright in an inspired performance that will make it hard for the technical team to drop him.
“Obviously as a striker, the first goal you score gives you confidence going forward,” he explained at the post-match conference “So for me it was great to get the goal.”
But being the team player he is, Bacela was more pleased with the team’s overall performance.
“We generally played well and I felt we deserved to get all the three points.”
They only got one though and tomorrow’s clash with a wounded Ajax provides them an opportunity to make up for Wednesday night’s failure.
It will be interesting to see if Tinkler sticks to the two-strikers route or returns to the all too familiar yet ineffective lone marksman ploy, the caretaker coach saying after the match that the Sundowns match had called for the twin attack.
Bacela doesn’t concern himself with the team’s approach much and refuses to see his scoring on Wednesday as his way of silencing those fans who had been calling for Pirates to start matches with Erasmus and Lehlohonolo Majoro.
“Who of us (strikers) gets to play is up to the coach. But obviously people will say what they think and they are entitled to their opinions. All three of us are here to represent Pirates. For us all that matters is that we support each other all the time no matter who plays.”
Such was his partnership with Erasmus and the way they complemented each other against Sundowns that it will be folly of Tinkler not to start with them against Ajax.
Other PSL fixtures:
Maritzburg United v AmaZulu, Harry Gwala Stadium, Pietermaritzburg, 8pm
University of Pretoria v Mamelodi Sundowns, Tuks, Pretoria, 3.30pm
Mpumalanga Black Aces v Free State Stars, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit 3.30pm
Kaizer Chiefs v Chippa United, Peter Mokaba, Polokwane, 6pm
SuperSport United v Polokwane City, Lucas Moripe Stadium, 8.15pm
Platinum Stars v Wits, Royal Bafokeng, Rustenburg; Bloemfontein Celtic v Moroka Swallows, Free State Stadium
Both at 3.30pm
Polokwane City v University of Pretoria (Peter Mokaba, 3pm)
Kaizer Chiefs v Free State Stars (Peter Mokaba, 6pm)
Ajax Cape Town v AmaZulu (Cape Town, 7.30pm)
Maritzburg Utd v Mamelodi Sundowns (Harry Gwala, 8pm)
Moroka Swallows v Orlando Pirates (Dobsonville); Platinum Stars v Chippa United (Royal Bafokeng); Bidvest Wits v SuperSport United (Bidvest); Black Aces v Bloem Celtic (Mbombela).
All games kick-off at 7.30pm