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No more slip-ups

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Getting past Green Eagles will be tough for struggling Bucs

Rhulani Mokwena. Picture: BackpagePix

ONE more slip this weekend and Orlando Pirates will crash out in the first round of the CAF Champions League.

The club’s interim boss Rhulani Mokwena, however, does not envisage that outcome and is drilling his troops to overturn the 1-0 deficit when they lock horns with Green Eagles of Zambia on Saturday at Orlando Stadium in the second leg of their qualifier.

The Sea Robbers are having a nightmare start to the season after their 1-0 upset by the Zambians, thereafter they were ejected from the MTN8 by a plucky Highlands Park, followed by a 3-0 caning at the hands of their hoodoo team SuperSport United.

On Tuesday they were made to sweat for a share of the league spoils with AmaZulu. And in the midst of this luckless run, the Buccaneers former head coach Milutin Sredjovic left the camp abruptly and surfaced as the new manager at Africa giants Zamalek.

Boost

On Saturday, Pirates, under Mokwena, have to net two unanswered strikes in order to advance to the next stage of the competition and the eager young coach is banking on home ground advantage to boost the team as they prepare to face Eagles.

“It is going to be a different ball game against Green Eagles, we have to win that one,” said Mokwena after the game against AmaZulu.

“We have to overturn the 1-0 result and we know exactly what we need to do.”

The Sea Robbers will be looking to turn their fortunes around and advance to the next round even though their recent form paints a negative image. They have registered one victory in five outings across all the competitions so far this season.

The one victory (2-1) came in their opening league game against Bloemfontein Celtic.

“We know what we have to deal with. It will be interesting to see if they still go with the 4-4-2 system even though they got a good result (in the first leg).

It will be interesting if they still go aggressively with their full-backs.

“We have to see how we deal with the second ball because in the first leg we couldn’t deal with them. We will sit down and analyse the previous game again and prepare accordingly,” he added.

Pirates have not hidden their ambition to make an impact in continental competitions. They became the first team in South Africa to lift the Champions League in 1995 and want to show that it was no fluke.

They were the semi-finalists in 2006 and runners-up in 2013 while in 2015 they were the CAF Confederation Cup silver medallists.

With this continental track record, the Soweto club would most definitely not be tipped for an early exit.

Said Mokwena: “They (Eagles) are coming to Orlando Stadium. It is not an easy place to be at.

“The fans will fill up the stadium. They will be our 12th man. They will inspire the boys to overturn the result. That’s what we want.

“We know what the Champions League means to the club, to our supporters and the chairman (Irvin Khoza). We know what we need to do and we carry the responsibility.

“We’ve accepted the performance was not good enough in Zambia.”