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Football | Absa Premiership

Ian Palmer with Mongezi Bobe © Backpagepix

Palmer urges Leopards to beat Pirates



Black Leopards will be looking to get their second win on the trot in the league when they meet Orlando Pirates in an Absa Premiership match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday night, kick-off at 7:30pm.

Leopards broke an eight-game winless streak when they defeated Ajax Cape Town 1-0 away from home in their last league outing.

The Limpopo side has recorded one win, three draws and one loss from their five home league matches so far this season and sit tenth on the log with 12 points from ten league matches overall.

The last time Leopards defeated Pirates was during their one and only win over the defending champions a full decade ago during the 2002/03 season.

Leopards coach Ian Palmer, who is heading into his second match in charge of the team, has asked his charges to win matches against teams that are title contenders.

“Pirates is never easy. They are chasing the title and we are in mid-table and this is the sort of challenges that the boys should rise up to,” explains Palmer.

“I told the boys that if we have to be a force to be reckoned with we have to beat the likes of Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, not underestimating any smaller teams, so that we can be regarded as a threat.

“The 10-day break between the match against Ajax and now has helped me to settle in and learn more about my team and understand my players on and off the field,” added the newly appoint Leopards coach.

Pirates picked up a third win from their last four league matches when they defeated Free State Stars 1-0 at home in their last outing.

The Soweto side has a respectable away record so far this season, with three wins, one draw and one loss from five matches.

The Buccaneers are currently placed second on the Absa Premiership log with 20 points from 10 matches.

Last season the Bucs did a league double over their Limpopo opponents, winning 2-0 in Polokwane and 1-0 in Soweto.

The defending league champions have already beaten Leopards this season at the same venue of this impending clash, but in a cup competition. Leopards suffered a 2-0 home loss when Zambian international Collins Mbesuma netted a brace for Bucs in their Telkom Knockout last 16 match.

Mbesuma, who scored the only goal when Zambia defeated South Africa last week in an international friendly, revealed that he was looking forward to getting back on the score sheet when the defending league champions travel to Polokwane.

“Here (at Pirates) you do not get many opportunities to make up for your mistakes, that is why I try hard to have a good game every time I step on to the field,” says Mbesuma.

“At smaller teams you allowed to grow into your position, but that is not possible here because there is another player who is equally as capable waiting to get his chance.

“Personally, I believe the pressure makes me a better player, it makes me work harder and keeps me focussed and that can only benefit the team in the long run.

“I have not scored in the last two league matches, but having scored against Bafana Bafana in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Wednesday is definitely a big motivation for me.

“The game against Leopards presents a great opportunity for me to get back into goal scoring form.

“Obviously, it won’t be an easy match because Leopards are playing at home. However, the fact that we’ve been able to beat them before (in the Telkom Knockout), will give us enough motivation to do it again,” concluded the Pirates striker.

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