Telkom Knockout final
Hot favourites Bucs are wary of Baroka
Orlando Pirates midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch says Bucs will not underestimate Baroka FC in the Telkom Knockout final at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
In the eyes of many soccer followers around the country‚ Pirates are the clear favourites to beat Baroka FC and win their first trophy in four years.
Coach Milutin Sredojevic has already cautioned his players against complacency in the final in Port Elizabeth.
“Baroka are not in the final by mistake‚” Lorch said. “They deserve respect and that’s what we will give them if we are to achieve our dream of lifting the trophy on Saturday because we know their players have ambitions to lift their first title in the club’s history.
“When you look at the teams they defeated along the way‚ you can see this is a team that has earned its place in the final and deserves respect.”
The 25-year-old said some of the Pirates players are motivated by the desire to win their first silverware in Bucs’ colours.
“A lot of us will be playing in our first final for the club.
“Like our opponents who want to win their first club title‚ a lot of us at Pirates also harbour ambitions of making a mark at this club.
“We want to be a generation that contributed to this club’s illustrious career.
“It’s been four years since the club and fans have tasted cup success and we want to give it our all this weekend to end the year on a high.”
Things have not always been this good at Baroka FC. In the 11 years of Baroka’s existence‚ the village club from GaMphahlele in Limpopo went through an emotional roller-coaster as they negotiated two promotions from the third tier of SA football until they arrived in the “promised land” of the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
During their time in the lower divisions‚ with limited resources and little hope of hitting the big time‚ they went through the disappointment of two failed promotion bids in the Vodacom League and the National First Division (NFD), but they were not deterred. They also survived the relegation and promotion play-offs after they finished second from the bottom in their first season in the top flight.
All these challenges are seemingly behind them and their immediate focus is now on Saturday’s final.
According to long-serving team member and assistant coach Matsimela Thoka‚ featuring in the final against the Buccaneers is a clear indication of how far they have come.
Thoka joined the club a year after it was founded by Khurishi Mphahlele in 2008 and has worked in various capacities under coaches Mike Rapatsa‚ Sello Chokoe and Kgoloko Thobejane.
“This club has come a long way and reaching our first final is huge news for the province‚” he said on Thursday.
“This journey has been long and frustrating at times but with the support of our chairman‚ we survived to reach this point.”
Thoka‚ who is the first assistant to head coach Wedson Nyirenda and holds a Safa B coaching licence‚ admitted they would have never dreamed of featuring in a top-flight cup final a few years ago.
“There are many clubs who have been playing in this league for a number of years, but they have never qualified for a cup final‚” he said.
“Qualifying to play in this final must not make us big-headed because we have not won anything.”
● At least 70% of the tickets to the final have been sold and PSL officials are keeping fingers crossed that the remaining 30% ill be snapped up ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
The PSL said on Thursday it expects the remaining tickets to be bought closer to match day (kickoff is at 6pm).
In an effort to push sales‚ the PSL has roped in popular hip-hop star Kwesta as part of the entertainment.