Smart money is on Bucs

EVEN with the unpredictable nature of the Nedbank Cup it is still difficult to fathom how United FC will get a win against Orlando Pirates in their round of 16 match at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium tomorrow.

And with Pirates most likely to be sporting a new-look sponsor's logo - a red Vodafone logo like the one Manchester United used to wear - they may just want to make their benefactors happy with a victorious unveiling.

Exactly how United, a team lying second from bottom in the National First Division Inland Stream, is going to win against the Buccaneers is unclear. If nothing else, perhaps they will be hoping to prove their mettle against their more illustrious opponents.

Among the seasoned campaigners in their squad United have Lungisani Ndlela, Junior Khanye and Thembile Kanono, a former Pirates player. But even with all the talent and experience in the squad, it was not enough to prevent the club's free-fall into the relegation zone.

For Pirates the stakes are much higher. They are eyeing a treble and despite what their players have been spouting about United being a threat and anticipating a tough match, it's difficult to see where this danger could emanate from.

Pirates coach Rudi Krol made it clear that he was taking the trip down south for a win and hinted at possibly fielding his tried and tested players. This was in response to the question of whether the supporters would see long-time absentees Lucas Thwala, Dikgang Mabalane and Benson Mhlongo.

That means the likes of Oupa "Ace" Manyisa, Andile Jali and Thulasizwe Mbuyane could turn out for the Soweto giants tomorrow night.

"I'm aware that they (United) have a few experienced players in their squad like my former player (Thembile) Kanono, who will want to do well. But what's important for us is how we start the game because we want to do well in this cup," Krol said. And that could mean a long night for United. Kickoff is at 8.15pm.