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Football | Absa Premiership

Avril Phali © Gallo Images

Cosmos fighting hard ahead of Bucs tie



Jomo Cosmos captain Avril Phali is fighting tough ahead of the struggling side's Premiership encounter against title-chasing Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium on Easter Monday.

"We must just soldier on in our quest for survival," Phali told his club's website on Sunday.

"That makes Monday's game an uphill task for both teams."

Should big brother Pirates condemn them to a crushing defeat, it would diminish Cosmos' relegation survival hopes even further.

Phali, like the club boss and coach Jomo Sono is a former Pirate, with the 32-year-old having had a stint with the Soweto giant in 2006.

Sono is a legendary figure in Bucs' memoirs before leaving the ship to form Cosmos in 1983, and now the offspring is aiming at avoiding a third relegation.

A draw or a win for the Buccaneers – the trophy's defending league champions – would see them topple Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the log standings.

"Pirates are in super form at the moment," said Phali.

"The fact that they are on the verge of making a successful defence of their title makes them even more difficult at this time."

Cosmos, with 16 points, prop the log and come off a 2-1 home loss to Ajax Cape Town last week where they surrendered an early lead.

With just two victories in the campaign, they are desperately trying to assemble points that would help them supersede Santos (19 points) and Black Leopards (23 points) above them.

Pirates are in second place, equal on 43 points with log leading Sundowns, and are starting to pick up form at the right time.

They beat AmaZulu 1-0 in Durban last Wednesday, a result that cost them two casualties, however.

Bookings for talisman striker Benni McCarthy and midfielder Thandani Ntshumayelo meant that they would serve suspension for this fixture.

"On current form they may look miles ahead (to us)," Phali said.

"But our defeat by Ajax will be a motivating factor for us as we confront Pirates at their backyard."

Earlier in the season, Ezenkosi gave Pirates a scare as they held a lead before conceding a late equaliser in their tie in Port Elizabeth.

"We threw away our 1-0 advantage and allowed Pirates to win that game," Phali remembered.

"In our minds we want to believe that it's pay back time.

"But they'll come into the game convinced that they can beat us."

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