Playing without Senzo Meyiwa is going to take some getting used to for Orlando Pirates players, but defender Ayanda Gcaba believes they will be ready to deliver when they return to the pitch.
Orlando Pirates are back in action for the first time on Saturday since the passing of Meyiwa when they host SuperSport United in a Telkom Knockout semifinal clash at Orlando Stadium. Kickoff is 8.15pm.
The Buccaneers are a game away from reaching a sixth consecutive cup final. This is also a chance for them to honour their deceased captain.
“We are adjusting bit by bit. Some of the guys are okay and some are not, but we are pushing to make sure that we are all okay for the weekend,” Gcaba said.
“We’ve had professionals speaking to us and the players are motivating one another. We have to be strong and focus on the work that is ahead of us. SuperSport are doing well and they are scoring goals. But we want to focus on ourselves and play our game,” he added.
Brighton Mhlongo could get his first taste of Premier Soccer League action in goal this season as Meyiwa’s replacement.
“Brighton was devastated, but we were there for him. We have tried to keep him strong. We told him just to be himself and we will see how things go,” Gcaba said.
A few weeks after passing the captain’s armband to Meyiwa, Bucs defender Siyabonga Sangweni is likely to lead the team on Saturday.
“It’s up to the coach to decide on who will captain the team. Sangweni was captain and then Senzo was captain. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but possibly Sangweni will be captain again. We will see,” said Gcaba.
SuperSport players were also hit hard by Meyiwa’s death, but veteran defender Thabo September says they will show no sympathy to their grieving opponents. SuperSport have done pretty well since Gordon Igesund took over as coach and are determined to avenge the MTN8 quarterfinal loss to Orlando Pirates in August.
“They would not have put this game out for us to play if we were going to feel bad for winning,” said September. It’s football. We have to play to win. We have to make sure that we give our best to beat them. We are doing well and after the win against Moroka Swallows (on Wednesday), the mood in the camp is very high. We are planning to give Pirates a run for their money.”