De Sa faces former Students
There will be a sense of familiarity on Saturday night at the Orlando Stadium as Orlando Pirates host fellow Johannesburg side Bidvest Wits in an Absa Premiership match, kick-off at 6pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).
Pirates have in the last season resembled a graduate institution for players who made their name at the Clever Boys.
Sifiso Myeni, Patrick Phungwayo, Moeneeb Josephs, head coach Roger De Sa and his assistant Eric Tinkler are Buccaneers who have represented the Clever Boys before.
In Wits’ home game last season they beat Pirates 3-1 in a league clash at Mbombela Stadium with an inspired Ryan Chapman, who at that time continued his impressive form in the first half of last season with a brace in the second half of the match.
In the return fixture last season in Soweto, both teams played to a goalless draw.
After eleven league matches, Wits are currently in sixth place on the log standings with 16 points. The Clever Boys have won four and drawn four matches this term whilst tasting defeat three times already.
Wits winger Mzikayise Mashaba who is settling in well at the club after joining at the start of the season from Free State Stars is looking forward to claiming the scalp of another Soweto giant after wins over Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout and Moroka Swallows in the Absa Premiership.
The Clever Boys played to a dull 0-0 draw at home against Ajax Cape Town in midweek and Mashaba would love nothing more than finishing the week undefeated and most importantly with a victory.
“We are fired up for this match against Pirates. The entire team knows the importance of this clash and we are confident of coming out with all three points on the weekend,” says Mashaba.
“The fact that they have former Wits players and coaches in their ranks will not scare us because there have been a lot of changes and new faces in the team since the last time we played.”
Pirates coach De Sa is happy that his side is keeping the pressure on the league leaders. Bucs trail table toppers and traditional rivals Kaizer Chiefs by four points after eleven rounds of league fixtures.
De Sa’s men hammered a helpless Black Leopards 4-0 away in midweek to warm up for this encounter with his old side.
Moreover, the Leopard’s match saw the fairy tale return of defender Happy Jele from an injury layoff of over a year. The lanky Jele has fully recovered from a career-threatening knee injury which he picked up in this fixture last season.
Jele damaged his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and tore the meniscus during a game against Wits in Mbombela in November 2011, but scored in less than a minute after coming on against Leopards on Wednesday night with his first touch of the ball.
“I am delighted for Happy by making this fantastic comeback. It has been a hard year for him after his horrible injury and I was part of that injury (as then Wits coach), it is great to see him back and get a goal on his first touch,” says De Sa.
“My main concern now is Rooi [Mahamutsa], [Siyabonga] Sangweni, Benni [McCarthy], Moneeb [Josephs] and Andile Jali. I am delighted with the performances we put in their absence and with the depth we have. When those guys return from injury they will make it hard for me to choose a winning side.
“It will be a tough game against my former club and as a team we are all looking forward to it and we want to make sure we keep the pressure on Chiefs.”