Pirates focus on finishing second

MIHLALI BALEKA mihlali.baleka@inl.co.za



African News Agency



ORLANDO Pirates are not feeling sorry for themselves amid their shortcomings but are looking to salvage whatever’s left of their season and build for the future. Tipped as the only team that could challenge Mamelodi Sundowns for the title after cruising to the MTN8, things haven’t gone according to plan for Pirates. They are out of the race as they trail the runaway champions-elect by 25 points, with only 24 points still up for grabs. But all is not lost. They could still play in the Champions League or Confederation Cup next season. To play in the elite African competition they would have to finish second on the log, while they would need to either finish third or win the Nedbank Cup to play in the CAF Confederation Cup. Achieving these feats would top off a decent season for Bucs given that they are still under a new technical team after Jose Riveiro and his backroom staff took over the reins this season. Captain Innocent Maela says they are working towards getting better and better under the new technical team. “When the season started we were undoubtedly the better team throughout the first competition, the MTN8,” the 30-year-old captain said this week. “After that we had team meetings, analysing (our performances). And we saw why we didn’t have the same consistency in the league. We do know the reasons and we’ve been working hard on them. “We also know that this is our first season with the coach and his style of play, so we are building something concrete that will help us in the future. Winning the Nedbank Cup would ensure that Pirates complete a double this season. But their ultimate focus is on finishing second in the league and competing among the best teams in Africa next season. And these aspirations could receive a major boost tonight if they beat second-placed Supersport United in Orlando to trim the gap to just two points. “Right now, at this moment, our focus is finishing in the Champions League (qualifying) spot and making sure that we compete in that space in the near future,” Maela concluded. Both Pirates and Supersport are high on confidence after the Bucs secured their passage to the Ke Yona Cup quarter-final after beating Venda Football Academy 2-1 on Saturday last week. Supersport, meanwhile, tightened their grip on second spot a fortnight ago, after beating Golden Arrows 2-1, thanks to a brace by Zakhele Lepasa, the striker who’s on loan from Pirates.