Mashaba promises fireworks

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Happy days are back for Orlando Pirates' myriad supporters and sympathisers with the arrival of Owen "Rubberdoll" Da Gama as coach of Amabhakabhaka.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, team manager Shakes Mashaba promised that people will see a different, hungrier Pirates.

Pirates welcome the new-look Benoni Premier United in a Telkom Knockout Cup last 16 match at Ellis Park Stadium tomorrow.

Kickoff is at 7.30pm.

"We've been preparing very well. What we are going to see this time round is commitment, determination and passion from the players," said Mashaba.

"For some time, some of those aspects have been lacking. Aiming to qualify for competitions is good, but not winning them is not good enough.

"It will be a difficult game playing against the unknowns. They have wreaked havoc in the past few games," said Mashaba, referring to United's shock 2-0 win over Free State Stars two weeks ago.

United - who have since signed an array of big names after relocating to Durban - also played to a credible 2-2 draw with Mamelodi Sundowns at the weekend.

Some of the players who are now with United include Serge "Mavusana" Djiehoua, Patrick Mayo and Bennet Mnguni.

United's Oupa Mnguni said they respected Pirates but were not scared of them.

He said their plan was to emulate the success of Platinum Stars.

Stars surprised all and sundry when they won the inaugural tournament last year, pocketing the whopping R4,25 million first prize.

On Thursday, Ajax Cape Town take on Free State Stars at Athlone Stadium at 7.30pm, with Bidvest Wits hosting Jomo Cosmos on Friday at Milpark Stadium (8pm).

Roger De Sa, Wits' coach, and Collin Tlemo, Cosmos' assistant coach, said they will both give it their best shot to advance to the next round.

On Saturday, Santos tackle SuperSport United at Athlone Stadium. Santos were not present at the briefing, but United's Gavin Hunt hopes to turn the corner.

AmaZulu complete the last 16 stage by meeting Platinum Stars at King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday, also at 3pm.

Meanwhile, Andrew Dipela, PSL general manager, pleaded with the media to refrain from referring to United as Thanda Royal Zulu.

"The league has no such a member - the one I know is Benoni Premier United," said Dipela.