Leal: Pirates are complete

2011-12-07 14:18
Julio Leal (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates coach Julio Leal said his side was now "complete and better" and ready to claim their first Telkom Knockout trophy, against Bidvest Wits in the final in Durban on Saturday evening.

The Buccaneers had veered off course in the league after their MTN8 triumph in August, but put on sterling displays in their successive wins against Ajax Cape Town and SuperSport United in the last week.

"What is good is that we are improving these days and now are complete and better, and will have our best performance (in the final)," said Leal after the team's training session on Wednesday.

"We want to realise our dream of putting the names of Pirates players and staff on this cup."

Pirates were runner's up to Kaizer Chiefs in the R4.25 million trophy last season - the only title that eluded them in their near-perfect campaign where they won the treble.

The Clever Boys, however, are a spirited outfit, known to put up a good fight against bigger teams, and outclassed Pirates in their league meeting in Nelspruit last month.

Wits were clinical in a 3-1 victory, where Pirates, in contrast, were woeful as they struggled to get any momentum going.

It was a skeleton Pirates side on the day, missing a number of their regulars due to injury and suspension, including influential veterans in captain Lucky Lekgwathi and striker Benni McCarthy.

Lekgwathi's presence brings calm at the back for Leal, while with McCarthy - who is still the country's all-time leading scorer - the team seems to have a better chance of finding the back of the net.

As much as Leal expected Wits coach Roger de Sa to have a strong tactical plan on the day, he said Pirates' cup experience would be to their advantage.

The Pirates' squad had been declared fit with the exception of midfielder Dikgang Mabalane who was still nursing a niggling hamstring.

"I can't speak about their team's tactics, only mine," Leal said.

"We know more about them after the game where, on the day, they were the better team and they also are in good shape.

"The presence of our captain (Lekgwathi) and Benni is important, but there were other players out for an assortment of reasons when we played them.

"With Benni, we get stronger and more mature and are able to maintain more possession, and he can make a difference."

Having won four of the last five domestic titles on offer, Pirates will enter with the fray as favourites over their youthful but talented Wits opponents at Moses Mabhida Stadium on the weekend.

Pirates leave for KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, where they can expect a strong support base in the stands at the 54 000 seating venue.

"We have worked on the physical side and recovery, and today we started working on the tactical aspects," Leal said.

"We want the team to be simple and committed for the 90 or 120 minutes, or the possibility of penalty shoot-outs."

Read more on:    telkom knockout  |  julio leal

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


Big month in the world of golf as the FedEx Cup concludes on the PGA Tour, the Race to Dubai gathers steam on the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour offers local golfers the chance to bank some cash. Oh, and not forgetting the USA v Europe Ryder Cup showdown at Hazeltine!

Latest blogs

Who was the best summer signing in the EPL?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.