Pirates face 'game of their lives'
Julio Leal (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates coach Julio Leal says his side's Premier Soccer League match against log leaders SuperSport United on Saturday at the Orlando Stadium is the most important match of their lives.
The Buccanneers head into the clash 10 points adrift of the table-topping SuperSport, who are fresh off a 2-0 drubbing of the much fancied Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday.
"I always try to tell our players, the most important game of our lives is the next one," said Leal at a press conference on Thursday.
"It doesn't matter that we are playing in the final of the [Telkom] cup knockout the following week, we have to concentrate and focus on SuperSport.
"It's difficult because one game is 90 minutes, and the next there is the possibility of 120 minutes, so it is a different focus," he explained.
Leal admitted that his treble-winning side from last season had been below par recently.
"We have done very well, it was just about the third or fourth month [of the campaign] that we had a lot of injuries, yellow cards and red cards and our performance was on a lower level than usual.
"We will start to recover and play better again, and in a very short time the team will be focused and see the SuperSport game as the most important of our lives."
Unbeaten after 12 games, SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt is confident in his charges after their good start to the season.
"Look it's a tough game for us, it's away from home," said Hunt.
"At this point in the season, we really don't need to win these games, we can play how we really want to play and we're quite a positive thinking team."
Hunt said his men were focused on an unpredictable Pirates team hungry for results.
"We're going to go there and have to be focused from the start against a team like Pirates, they've already been in a cup final and they're on their way to the next one and I'm sure their league form will pick up.
"We need to certainly take care, and play with pride and intensity and I'm sure the results will take care of themselves."
In other matches over the weekend, third-placed Free State Stars host Santos, who come off a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns in a midweek clash, at the Charles Mopell Stadium on Saturday.
Bidvest Wits will be at home to Golden Arrows, while bottom placed Jomo Cosmos will be looking for their first win of the campaign when they host Platinum Stars.
Later, Black Leopards will travel to the Dobsonville stadium to play fifth-placed Moroka Swallows.
In Sunday's action, Sundowns will host Kaizer Chiefs who will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they travel to Loftus Versfeld.
Ajax Cape Town will be looking for the full three points when they are at home to Bloemfontein Celtic at the Cape Town Stadium.
In the last game of the weekend, Maritzburg United travel to the Moses Mabhida stadium to take on AmaZulu.