Pirates ready for unpredictable Sekhukhune – Maela
Skipper hopes Bucs will change their fortunes against underdogs
Orlando Pirates skipper Innocent Maela has assured that they'll be prepared for whatever game plan Sekhukhune United will deploy when the two sides battle it out in the Nedbank Cup final at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday (6pm).
Sekhukhune unexpectedly played with three centre-backs in Edwin Gyimah, Daniel Cardoso and Trésor Yamba when they held Pirates to a 1-all draw in their penultimate league match at Orlando Stadium almost two weeks ago.
After that game, Babina Noko coach Brandon Truter lauded his side's defensive structure, albeit promising an offensive formation in the Ke Yona decider. Maela has revealed they are bracing themselves for any sort of approach from Sekhukhune, insisting their main focus was on their own way of doing things.
"As we've been preparing this week, we are preparing for any scenario. We are preparing for a team that will come at us since it's a cup final. But we are also prepared for a team that will sit back and play counter-attacks. More than anything, we focus on ourselves... the mental fortitude will be crucial,'' Maela said.
"The league and a cup final are two different things. We know what we have to do in this final. What we can promise is, the team will play with dedication. We will play to win. We are ready to compete and play for one another."
Before winning two MTN8 trophies in the last three years, Pirates had a tendency of being stunned by the underdogs in the finals, with the 2018 Telkom Knockout, where they were pipped by Baroka, the freshest memory of this. Maela, who started the 2018 TKO decider against Bakgaga, views Saturday's final against Sekhukhune as a perfect chance to correct their history against less-fancied sides in finals.
"When you look back at the 2018 final, I believe the team played really, really well. We gave it our all but on the day it wasn't meant to be. Sometimes it is what it is, you can't change that. Coming into this Nedbank Cup final, we have an opportunity to rectify that. We want to go out there and compete as best as we can,'' the Pirates skipper said.
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