bucs upbeat

IN RHYTHM: Orlando Pirates players during a training session at Johannesburg Stadium yesterday. Pic. Mohau Mofokeng. 16/07/08. © Sowetan.
IN RHYTHM: Orlando Pirates players during a training session at Johannesburg Stadium yesterday. Pic. Mohau Mofokeng. 16/07/08. © Sowetan.

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

Orlando Pirates players are not going to leave anything to chance when the Absa Premiership season kicks off next month.

All the players were upbeat and determined to make a clean sweep in the new season, starting with the prestigious Vodacom Challenge.

The Challenge kicks off on Saturday with a game between Manchester United and Kaizer Chiefs at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.

The Red Devils will play Orlando Pirates at Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Tuesday night, and Bucs and Amakhosi will meet in a derby at the Eastern Province Rugby Union Stadium in Port Elizabeth next Thursday.

Some of the players Sowetan spoke to about the Vodacom Challenge said they respected Manchester United because they may learn more about the game, but were determined to win the event.

Switching focus to the derby, they said they were ready to beat arch-rivals Chiefs in Port Elizabeth next Thursday.

Said former Mamelodi Sundowns recruit, Benson Mhlongo: "For the past seven years Pirates have never won a trophy, so I'm here to assist the side to end that drought. I'm determined to see us collecting trophies and the Vodacom Cup will be our launching pad.

"Although I expect a lot of pressure from the supporters, I'm very comfortable and I can handle it. It is a kind of motivation that makes me perform much better.

"Pirates is known globally, unlike Sundowns. And having said that, I expect new challenges and hard work and to bring back those trophies to the club."

He said results were important for a big team like Pirates.

"We need to compete against the best in the league and during the tournaments. And we're all looking at the derby, which is one of the most extraordinary events," Mhlongo said.

"I've never played in the derby and I'm looking forward to it and hope to do well against Chiefs. We're determined to not only beat Chiefs, but to win the tournament."

The defender said he felt good to be a part of Pirates.

"I've joined them to pass my experience to the youngsters. It's an honour for me to don the black and white jersey of the Bucs."

Tlou Segolela said: "I've never played against Manchester United. I respect them because they are the European and English Premiership champions, I hope to learn a lot from them.

"But against Chiefs, we're undoubtedly going to beat them."

Teko Modise said: "It's going to be a tough task for us and a high mountain to climb. But we're going out there to fight. But concerning the derby, it is something else. But we have to register a win."

Excellent Walaza said: "The Red Devils are a great team and I'm delighted for us to play them in order to gain a lot of experience.

"But a derby is a motivation on its own and we're ready and going to beat Chiefs."

Lucas Thwala said: "Playing against the soccer giants of Manchester's calibre is an honour for us and an opportunity for some of the players to be spotted by talent scouts."