Derby a must-win for Bucs
Johannesburg - After claiming just a single point in their previous two league outings, Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa says victory is crucial in the Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs if his side are to defend their league title.
The Buccaneers, who hold a game in hand, fell five points behind AmaKhosi after settling for a draw against Bloemfontein Celtic in a midweek Absa Premiership clash, but De Sa insisted his side were still in control of their destiny ahead of the match at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
“For us, we're looking for that moment of magic, that game that sort of ignites us once again and maybe sends us off for the final stretch with a good performance. For us, a win is almost a must at this stage," De Sa said.
“In some ways it's still in our hands. If we win every game we play we can still finish ahead of Chiefs because we have a game in hand.”
The former Wits coach, chasing his first league title at the helm of Pirates, believed his team would need to take the attacking initiative in the derby.
“We are the ones that are five points behind so we have to take the game to them," he said. “We know what's at stake."
De Sa was not concerned about his side's defence, which had been shaky in the last two weeks, including a shock 4-1 defeat to amateur outfit Maluti FET College in the first round of the Nedbank Cup.
“That's football. You can't keep a clean sheet every game.”
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter believed the result would play only a small part in the title race, with one third of the leage campaign remaining.
“I don't think this is the decider, but the win will give one of the teams very strong impetus,” Baxter said.
“It won't be the decider unless you allow it to be. There's still too much football to be played.
"Both teams will have difficult games, both teams will have banana skins and slip up at some point.”
Even with a win in the derby encounter, Baxter believed it could prove insignificant to their title ambitions, and they needed to stay focussed on their long-term goals.
“To look at this as the be-all-and-end-all, I'm afraid the winner could lose three on the bounce because they can't get their head out the clouds.
“This is a very important game, but in many ways it's going to be a challenge to move forward afterwards.”
Baxter was relieved to welcome back Tsepo Masilela and Bernard Parker, but Lehlohonolo Majoro and Matthew Rusike had been ruled out for the clash.
“People at the beginning of the season were saying that we didn't have a big enough squad," he said.
"I've been very pleased with the way the squad has stood up.”
De Sa, meanwhile, was still waiting on a decision on the fitness of Siyabonga Sangweni.