Thanda wary of Bucs
Johannesburg - Relegation threatened Thanda Royal Zulu have had no success against Orlando Pirates this season, losing three times, and now host the Buccaneers who have hit their best form in a long time, at Durban’s Absa Stadium in a Premiership match on Saturday. Kick-off is at 15:30.
But TRZ are not losing any sleep and coach Roger Palmgren will not put his players under any pressure, despite the fact Bucs have beaten TRZ twice in cup competitions and 4-2 in the first round of the league, and are firm favourites to close the gap to three points on leaders SuperSport United.
TRZ assistant coach, Johann Eriksson, said he had watched 10-man Pirates demolish title chasing Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 at Ellis Park last Wednesday and then the Buccaneers defeated defending Premiership champions SuperSport 2-0 at the same venue in a Nedbank Cup first round clash last weekend.
Said Eriksson: “Pirates were awesome in both those games, but we aim to try and stop them. On paper and form they are favourites to beat us again, but we are not going to lie down and make it easy for them. We are fighting for survival and a win over Pirates would turn our season on its head and take us away from the relegation zone.
"Beating Pirates would do wonders for our morale. We will be trying our best to cause a major upset and ease our relegation worries.”
TRZ have no major injury worries, but Eriksson acknowledges that the crowd would be behind Pirates, despite the fact it is TRZ’s home fixture.
Said Eriksson: “Pirates enjoy huge support wherever they play. It adds to the atmosphere and we welcome the Pirates fans. But they will not deter us as we are fully focused on trying to get something out of this game.”
TRZ, Maritzburg United, Bloemfontein Celtic and Bay United are in a four-way fight to see who finishes last of the 16-team league and will be automatically relegated. The team finishing 15th goes into the relegation/promotion playoff.
Said the TRZ assistant coach: “We still have seven matches to play and I am not sure what the safety mark is, but all we are working on getting as many points as we can out of the 21 points available, starting on Saturday by hopefully surprising Pirates.”
A lot will rest on the experienced shoulders of TRZ's two former Bafana Bafana stars, striker NKosinathi Nhleko and wing Clement Mazibuko. But in Teko Mazibuko, Siphelele Mthembu and flying winger Dikgang Mabalane, Bucs look to carry too much fire power and confidence.