Leaky defence and lack of goals

Orlando Pirates head coach Rhulani Mokwena says things will improve at the club.
Orlando Pirates head coach Rhulani Mokwena says things will improve at the club.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Rulani Mokwena has his work cut out as he settles in his new role as head coach at Orlando Pirates.

He took over on an interim basis following the departure of Micho Sredojevic, who resigned due to "personal challenges" a day before Pirates lost 1-0 to Highlands Park in the MTN8 quarterfinals at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

For only the fourth time in the past decade, Pirates have lost three consecutive matches (see sidebar).

Their main problem in the past season was their shaky defence and it appears to persist as they have conceded in all their four matches this season. They also have not scored a goal in the last three matches.

Mokwena reckons that Pirates played better against Highlands than in their previous three matches.

For the record, Pirates beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-1, before losing to Green Eagles (0-1) in the CAF Champions League and SuperSport United (0-3).

"In the last three matches, we had not played the way we would expect Orlando Pirates to play," Mokwena said at a post-match media briefing.

The former Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach also suggested that perhaps the players were also affected by Sredojevic's departure.

Against Highlands, Pirates' defence was breached a few times and the visitors kept playing the balls behind young defender, Thabiso Monyane, who had little cover.

Mokwena also admitted that he has to contend with the fact that senior players left and this has an effect in the change room. Bucs parted ways with players such as Mpho Makola and Thabo Matlaba.

With around 10 new players, there are issues of adapting that needed to be considered. "It's very difficult at the moment to put your finger on the pulse and diagnose what we are going through."

He would be aware that Pirates' defence needs urgent attention. Pirates take on AmaZulu at King Zwelithini Stadium tomorrow (7.30pm). 

Bucs' loss track record  

This is only the fourth time that Pirates have lost three official games in a row in the last 10 years. In October 2009, Bucs lost to Santos (0-1), SuperSport United (0-3) and AmaZulu (1-2).

Dutchman Ruud Krol was the man in charge at the time and he stayed on the following season (2010/2011), to guide Pirates to a treble (League, MTN8 and Nedbank Cup titles). In May 2013, Pirates lost three consecutive matches to Chippa United (0-1), TP Mazembe (0-1) and Mamelodi Sundowns (0-1) under the guidance of Roger de Sa, who resigned eight months later.

In August last year, Pirates were defeated by SuperSport (in the MTN8 quarters after a 2-2 draw), Wits (0-1) and Bloem Celtic (0-1) with Micho Sredojevic at the helm.

This season, Bucs have lost to Green Eagles (0-1) in the CAF Champions League and a 3-0 loss to SuperSport in the league. They lost 1-0 to Highlands Park in the MTN8 quarterfinals at the weekend.

Pirates' worst ever run in the PSL era was in 2017 when they went 12 matches without a win.

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