Sun Sep 24 05:06:05 SAST 2017

Pirates go in search of back-to-back league victories for the first time since November

By Nick Said | 2017-08-21 16:15:08.0

Orlando Pirates go in search of back-to-back league victories for the first time since November when they travel to Limpopo to face Baroka FC in the Absa Premiership on Tuesday.

The Buccaneers opened their season with a 1-0 home win over Chippa United on Saturday evening‚ a positive‚ if unspectacular start for returning coach Micho Sredojevic.

The Serb offered debuts to Innocent Maela‚ Musa Nyatama and Thami Sangweni in an attempt to freshen up the team‚ believing most of all that Pirates need a boost in confidence.

His new-look backline and selection of goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands in goal appeared to offer more solidity ahead of what he admits is another “cup final” for Pirates against Baroka‚ one of many this season as they look to banish the horrors of the last campaign.

Maela is likely to retain his left-back place‚ with captain Thabo Matlaba on the right‚ and Gladwin Shitolo and Ntsikelelo Nyauza the surprise picks in the centre of the defence.

“Thabo Matlaba and Wayne Sandilands have the experience and we have put on their shoulders the responsibility to lead with maturity and seniority the new look defence‚” Sredojevic told reporters.

“We also had a player like Innocent Maela‚ who I personally told to play his football like he is on the training field. I am happy that he played the way he did and provided the assist to the goal [by Thamsanqa Gabuza].

“We are still very far from where we are supposed to be‚ but one of the crucial points is to keep as many clean sheets as possible.”

Sredojevic also hinted that his side would not be timid on the road and used the old maxim that the best form of defence is attack.

“We are dreaming of having creative build-ups and dangerous attacks‚ and whenever we lose the ball‚ to transition to defence in numbers and as a team‚" he said.

"This is exactly where we need to improve. We need to defend by attacking‚ this is a big team that demands of you to be in attack all the time. Better football and attacking football will come when we have gained confidence."

Both meetings between Pirates and Baroka last season finished in 1-1 draws following dramatic late equalisers.

Goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke produced his now famous bicycle-kick to draw Baroka level in the 95th minute of the first game‚ while Issa Sarr equalised in the 93rd minute for Pirates in the return in late April.

Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobejane was disappointed by his side’s showing in their 0-0 draw with local rivals Polokwane City on Saturday‚ bemoaning a lack of cutting edge.

“It was disappointing because we did not manage to score. In our last derby we played 0-0 and again it’s 0-0‚ but the chances were there on both sides and we could not capitalise on that‚” Thobejane said.

It is unlikely that Masuluke will get a chance to repeat his heroics having lost his place in the Baroka side to new signing Virgil Vries.

Baroka also handed debuts to a trio of foreigners who are likely to start again against Pirates – former Kaizer Chiefs forward Lewis Macha from Zambia‚ Tanzanian defender Abdi Banda and Zimbabwean midfielder Talent Chawapiwa. - SowetanLIVE