Mpho Makola and Musa Nyatama should be restored to the starting line-up for Orlando Pirates on Wednesday when they take on Bidvest Wits in the Premiership‚ looking to put behind them the disappointment of their cup exit at the weekend.
The two midfielders were rested as coach Milutin Sredojevic embarked on a new rotation system in anticipation of a taxing programme for Pirates this season‚ particularly when they start competing in the 2018-19 African Champions League in November.
The game against Wits will be the fourth in 10 days for Pirates‚ who played two hours on Saturday night against SuperSport United before being eliminated through penalties.
But Sredojevic believes those players who have already played in all three matches of the new season will be able to handle yet another game‚ even after being forced to play extra time in Saturday’s MTN8 quarterfinal loss to SuperSport.
"From a fitness aspect I believe we have matched our opponents and we have lasted‚" said Sredojevic.
"Our two crucial jobs have been to recover the team physically and mentally to lift them to show the real character of Orlando Pirates by bouncing back with a good performance on Wednesday and showing you can suffer some blows along the road of the season. The power of any team is when football hits you‚ how strong you are to stand up and to hit back with good performance?"
Nyatama‚ who celebrates his 31st birthday on Wednesday‚ and the 32-year-old Makola were replaced by debutants Ben Motshwari and Linda Mntambo.
"I believe Motshwari did well‚ keeping in mind his lack of match fitness‚" said Sredojevic.
"He is increasing the pool of players who will compete for us in central midfield throughout the season.
"All the new players showed what we demanded from them — spirit‚ good expressions‚ good body language. They really wanted to win‚" he added.
The previous meeting between Pirates and Wits ended in a 4-0 victory for the Sea Robbers, but the coach said a repeat was unlikely.
"They have had significant changes to their squad and they are flying high after two matches‚" he said. "We need to defend well against their long passes when they are looking for the second ball and we need to take care of all the other aspects of what they bring.
"We shall prepare properly for what will be a totally different ball game. It will be an unpredictable game.
"We are looking forward to them coming here [to the Orlando Stadium] for a good game where we want a good performance and result in order to give ourselves proper medicine after the disappointment of losing in the MTN8.
"Usually if you only play next seven days after you have lost‚ it’s a long time to brood. We feel that pain inside all the time. But now we only have to feel it for three or four days before we play again‚" Sredojevic said.
"The best way to bounce back is to have a good performance and result against the team that is leading the table at present."