Pirates’ mountain to climb for Celtic
“The MTN8 is our cup and we want to keep it” are the words of warning from Orlando Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi ahead of the Buccaneers 2012/13 MTN8 quarterfinal clash against Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium on Friday night, kick-off at 20h00.
The Buccaneers are looking to win the Top Eight Cup for an unprecedented third successive time after securing a second successive treble last season, adding the Telkom Knockout and Absa Premiership titles to the MTN8 they won early in the campaign.
And the Pirates captain has no intention of releasing their grip on the MTN8 trophy.
Lekgwathi, though, fully understands that Celtic will be a tough team to beat, but he feels home ground advantage will make all the difference.
“Playing at Orlando Stadium is a big boost, it is our ‘slaughter house’, we never lost a game there last season and we want to continue from where we left off.
“Celtic have a strong team and have beefed up their team with the likes of (Kurt) Lentjies and Dominic Isaacs, so it is going to be tough.
“But it is for us to make sure we go there and focus for the whole 90 minutes,” said the Buccaneers centre-back.
Looking at the stats, the fact that the Pirates are playing at home does not bode well for the Phunya Sele Sele.
The Bucs have an excellent home record against Celtic (just two losses from 28 matches down the years) and have won the last eight matches across all competitions in which they have played host to the team in green and white.
Moreover, Lekgwathi’s team enters their MTN8 quarterfinal match full of confidence after lifting the Carling Black Label Cup last weekend, beating arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the final (winning in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw).
“Everyone was happy to beat our neighbours Kaizer Chiefs, but it was not easy, scoring a last minute goal, but I was happy with the guys and the fighting spirit they showed – we all showed character.
“The win was a big moral boost for our upcoming game against Celtic which is not going to be easy.
“I have confidence in my guys. After Benni (McCarthy) scored that late goal it was a big moral boost for him and I am sure he will score more goals for us,” explained Lekgwathi.
Speaking from the Celtic camp, captain Thabo Nthethe admits Pirates will be difficult to beat at home, but feels the team’s preseason preparations have provided his side with the confidence to succeed.
“Against Pirates it is going to be a tough game especially when we play against them at Orlando Stadium – it is always tough for us there because we haven’t won a game there against Pirates.
“This season, though, we have to go that extra mile and make sure of our finishing because we have been playing very well, but have not been using our chances.
“If you don’t take your chances you can’t win the game, but we have been improving on that.
“Since we have started preseason we have being doing very well and the new players that are here are looking to put the team goal forward, to challenge for cups.
“We are looking forward to Friday and ready to play any team.
“We are just going to go there and focus on what we have to do and take the game to them,” concluded Nthethe.