JOHANNESBURG — Orlando Pirates’ caretaker coach Augusto Palacios said on Thursday his charges would lift their performance for the Premiership clash against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium today.
Pirates would aim to improve on their 3-0 loss to Santos on Wednesday, as they prepared for a home match in front of a sold-out crowd at the 95 000-seater venue.
“The game like last night (against Santos) happens in football,” Palacios said.
It was the Peruvian’s first match in charge since taking over from suspended coach Julio Leal on Monday. Palacios has also coached at Chiefs and with Bafana Bafana.
“We know what a derby is about and know what it’s like to play Chiefs, who have an advantage of not playing midweek,” he said.
“But we are taking responsibility for it. I’m putting ideas based on the Pirates style of play. The support that I have been getting from the players so far has been fantastic.”
Chiefs’ coach Vladimir Vermezovic said his 11th Soweto Derby meeting in three seasons at the club was as special as it was when he took over in 2009.
There is little needed to motivate both sets of players, as not even form matters in the encounter.
“You don’t really need too much motivation when you play in it. To me, I’d like to play Pirates every week,” the Serbian said.
“Also, position and form will not matter when we play on Saturday (today). But believe me, we will be ready for this.”
Both squads are equal on 33 points with Chiefs second on the log and Pirates third because of a bigger goal difference. However, Amakhosi have a game in hand as both teams chase log-leading Mamelodi Sundowns, who carry 37 points after 19 matches.
Chiefs beat the Buccaneers 2-1 at the same venue earlier this season. They will be bolstered by return from injury of talismanic winger Siphiwe Tshabalala. Pirates, meanwhile, are uncertain whether captain Lucky Lekgwathi will be fit for the fixture.
The prospect of a Pirates turnaround in the Soweto Derby looked gloomy yesterday morning with news Portuguese international Luis Boa Morte along with four other Buccaneers would not be ready to face Chiefs.
The clash, which has been the talk of town since the resumption of the league on February 15, is billed for the FNB Stadium with kick-off at 3:30pm — live broadcast on SS4 and live streaming on SuperSport.com starting at 2:30pm.
Boa Morte has been ruled out due to an injury which also grounded him for the
3-0 loss against Santos on Wednesday. The Portuguese is expected to be out of action for up to six weeks after fracturing a bone in his toe during a Reserve League match against Moroka Swallows earlier this week, the club has reported through the official website.
This will be a massive blow for stand-in coach Augusto Palacios as he tries to steady the Bucs ship which appears to have strayed into troubled waters. More so the player will also be disappointed as he misses out on one of the biggest derbies on the continent.
“It (referring to injury) is part of football you know,” Boa Morte told OrlandoPiratesFC.com. “I went into a tackle and came off second best. This is a real pity as I was really looking forward to the match on Saturday (today). I’ll be resting for the next couple of weeks and then it’s back to work as I look to fight my way back into the team.” — Supersport