Okonkwo cautious - Taming Leopards won't be easy task
BLACK Leopards are a dangerous side this season, and they could "mess you up" if you give them a chance.
This is a toned-down-for-print version of what Orlando Pirates midfield anchor Onyekachi Okonkwo said as the Buccaneers prepare for their tricky opening Telkom Knockout match against Leopards tomorrow.
The match is at Peter Mokaba Stadium, with a 6pm kickoff.
Okonkwo, who rejoined the Soweto giants this season, said Leopards were cunning and very dangerous this season and that the defending champions would need to keep their wits about them.
"Leopards are a good side and they will be playing at home. They can f*** you up, if you give them a chance," said Okonkwo.
"But, as defending champions, we cannot afford to lose this cup. We have to make sure we wrap it up quickly.
"We are not under pressure. We are the defending champions and we just want to win it," he said.
"I came back here to win the CAF Champions League and some domestic silverware. That is why I came back."
The Buccaneers ran out 2-1 winners against Lidoda Duvha in the corresponding fixture of the 16-team tournament last season.
Following a shaky start this season, which has already cost them their MTN8 title, the Buccaneers look to be finding their way under Roger de Sa.
Having guided Bidvest Wits to the knockout finals last season, in which they ironically lost to Bucs, De Sa is familiar with the competition and knows what it takes to win it.
But the unpredictability of knockout games means all sides have an equal chance of success and no one should be written off.
Leopards let SuperSport United off the hook in their last league match as they contrived to draw a match they should have easily won. Despite their sluggish league form, they remain a team with great potential and very few would bet against them causing an upset.
"Playing in the CAF Confederation Cup has helped us a great deal in terms of gaining experience," said Leopards midfielder Vincent Mabusela.
"We have improved a lot as compared to last season where we struggled, only to bounce back towards the end of the season. We have done well in the league this season, losing only once (to Kaizer Chiefs) in seven matches.
"We just need to focus throughout to avoid conceding late goals, as was the case in our last two games against Maritzburg United (2-2) and SuperSport United (3-3)."