Five players who could win the TKO final for Baroka FC against Orlando Pirates
Baroka FC stand on the brink of a first ever major title as they clash with Orlando Pirates in Saturday’s final of the Telkom Knockout.
There is no doubt they go into the decider as underdogs‚ but Baroka are a club who continually defy the odds‚ especially cup competitions‚ and have a rich history of giant-killing acts on the big stage.
They will certainly go in with no fear and as the pressure will be squarely on fancied Pirates to perform‚ Baroka can play their natural attacking game under Zambian coach Wedson Nyirenda.
TimesLIVE picks out five players who could be influential performers for them at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
The Zimbabwean international winger lives up to his name and has produced a steady stream of eye-catching performances since arriving in South Africa at the start of last season.
Blessed with pace and excellent ball skills‚ he is a real threat out wide for Baroka‚ both as a provider of assists and the odd goal‚ though probably not enough to match his ability.
The sight of him running at the Pirates defenders will be a real worry for opposing coach Micho Sredojevic‚ who will have to hatch a plan to contain the tricky winger.
Zimbabwean Chipezeze is in his first season in South Africa and has performed expertly in the opening months of the campaign‚ conceding just seven goals in 11 games across all competitions.
He has featured in all three of Baroka’s Telkom Knockout matches and has yet to concede‚ bringing some much-needed solidity to the keeping position at the club.
It is an area they have battled in since winning promotion to the top-flight for the 2016/17 season‚ with Oscarine Masuluke‚ wonder-goal against Pirates aside‚ prone to howlers‚ Virgil Vries having left for Kaizer Chiefs and Ayanda Dlamini yet to convince.
Chipezeze is a good shot-stopper‚ looks strong under the high ball and is a vocal communicator with his defence.
Up until a few weeks ago few people had heard of Dickens‚ but could he be the ace up the sleeve for Baroka?
It may be tough for coach Nyirenda to throw the inexperienced forward into the starting line-up‚ but when he has done so in recent weeks the 20-year-old has not disappointed.
Dickens was playing in the SAB League with Riverside Rangers last season and is certainly a raw talent‚ but might just provide an x-factor that Pirates will find it difficult to read and to contain.
Mdantsane has been arguably the most consistent performer in a Baroka shirt in the last season and a half‚ and will be a key man in the midfield again when they take on Pirates.
A former member of the Kaizer Chiefs MultiChoice Diski Challenge side‚ he will no doubt relish taking on the ‘old enemy’ having arrived at Baroka via ABC Motsepe League side Baberwa FC.
His infectious personality drives his teammates on and he is a real leader on the field‚ as evidenced by his wearing of the captain’s armband at times this season.
If Baroka are to win on Saturday‚ you get the impression that Mdantsane will need to have a good game‚ he is that crucial to the team.
The old war horse who has been recently drafted into the Baroka side‚ Semenya brings cup final experience having played in the decider of this competition for Platinum Stars against Pirates in 2013.
Now 36 years old he is very much in the twilight of his career‚ but has shown since he came into the Baroka team that he still has the hunger‚ and the ability‚ to perform at this level.
His display in the semi-final against BidVest Wits was particularly impressive and he will need a repeat if he is to keep Pirates exceptional array of attacking talent quiet.