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Complacency sinks Sea Robbers

The Nedbank Cup is a great competition as it always throws up surprises. Much like England’s FA Cup, it affords lesser known players a chance to make a name for themselves. The tale of David trumping Goliath is a regular feature.

Pirates’ 1-4 defeat to Maluti FET College was certainly the biggest upset of the competition thus far. The victors may only be playing in the third-tier of South African football but the fact that they scored within the first minute gave them real belief.

As a coach you always advise your players to get the job done early on in a match to take the other team out of the equation. Maluti certainly heeded this advice as they took a 2-0 lead after just 25 minutes. In football, belief plays a massive role and with the balance of play the final score-line wasn’t a surprise. Maluti grew in confidence over the 90 minutes.

In my opinion, Pirates certainly underestimated their lesser-known rivals. I felt they went into the game with the wrong mental attitude. The fact that they lost had nothing to do with the quality of personnel at their disposal. They were merely complacent and I feel this is one of the biggest challenges for coaches at top clubs to deal with. Players need to learn that they can’t just walk onto the pitch and expect to win.

Their main Soweto rivals, Chiefs, did well to beat Wits 3-0. Cup football is all about taking your opportunities and Chiefs certainly did that. Take for example when Wits missed a chance at goal and Chiefs scored in the following passage of play.

Most of the Cape-based sides are now out of the Nedbank Cup and are languishing on the PSL log standings. I feel Cape football has gone through an equal amount of highs and lows over the years.

It’s clear to see that Ajax Cape Town – lying in 14th place – aren’t on the right path at present. While I don’t know all the in-house happenings, it is no hidden fact that there are complications between the owners of the club. Those types of squabbles are never healthy for a team.

Meanwhile, it stands to reason that Chippa United are rooted to the bottom of the PSL. They have axed a host of coaches and players this season. In truth, I felt they recently got rid of their best player in Larry Cohen.

While I don’t know all the politics at the club, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that constant chopping and changing will have an adverse effect on the team.

Turning to last night’s PSL action, I felt it was a wonderful comeback by Swallows. Historically Swallows have been good going forward and have always possessed the ability to score goals but their defence has proved their weakest point.

Zeca Marques thus brought in Cohen to arrest this shortcoming. His partnership with Roger da Costa has worked well. While Da Costa brings an enthusiasm and a never-say-die attitude, at times he needs a teammate to calm him down. Cohen has a cool head on his shoulders and can read a game well

While Pirates have conceded seven goals in two games, I believe that happens from time to time in football. The presence of the experienced Siyabonga Sangweni is clearly being missed. He plays an important role in the Sea Robbers’ side.

Post-match, I heard Pirates’ skipper Lucky Lekgwathi say that his side lacked communication at the back. He’s the captain and leader and, in all honesty, if they are lacking in communication it’s down to him. Pirates are too experienced a side to use this as an excuse.

Once again I feel that complacency crept in once Pirates had taken a 2-0 lead after half an hour. I felt Katlego Mashego’s goal just before the break was the turning point in the match. Had Pirates gone into halftime with a two-goal lead, I don’t believe they would have been beaten.

Coaching Pirates is always a tough job but I believe Roger de Sa’s position shouldn’t be under pressure. He’s taken them to second in the league for goodness sake! The PSL is a tough coaching cauldron but how would Pirates benefit from sacking De Sa and bringing in another coach?

What happened last night was huge in the context of the title race. Had Pirates won they would have gone one point clear of Chiefs ahead of the Soweto derby next Saturday.

Last night’s loss isn’t the biggest train smash for Pirates but, should they lose to Chiefs, they will be five points behind with an inferior goal difference. Five points is plenty to make up come the business end of the league.

The Chiefs-Wits rematch should be a good game on Saturday. It always tough facing a side you met a few days earlier. Chiefs have to be really wary of the fact that it sometimes swings the other way.

While Wits have been rather inconsistent of late, they certainly have the potential to bounce back. Clive Barker – who I think is loving being back in the PSL – will no doubt have them highly motivated.

A coaching job in the PSL either drives you to death or it keeps you young. For Clive I reckon it’s done the latter.

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