Pirates 'sorry' after six goal drubbing by Sundowns and fan violence
'All you can do is move forward for our supporters‚ to say sorry. If your house is burnt down you must use cement and rebuild it'
Orlando Pirates assistant-coach Benson Mhlongo does not blame Bucs' players for their dismal 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday but he has apologised to the fans for the embarrassment.
Pirates have called a press conference for today‚ and speculation is that the Soweto giants will effect changes to their technical staff to prevent their season sliding even further into disarray.
Bucs conceded six goals for the second time this season. Their 6-1 drubbing by Supersport United at Mbombela Stadium on November 1 equalled their record loss and led to coach Muhsin Ertugral's resignation on national television.
A rampant Sundowns broke that record on Saturday as Bucs' insipid performance led to fury from their fans‚ a pitch invasion and on-field violence that was broken up by a police armoured vehicle‚ stun grenades and teargas.
Pirates‘ caretaker coach Augusto Palacios could not even return to the field after the chaos that erupted following Percy Tau's devastating 82nd-minute sixth strike for Sundowns. Nor could he face the media in the post-match press conference‚ which Mhlongo had to address. “He was not feeling well. Remember‚ Palacios has loved this team with his whole heart. So, for him to get six goals won‘t sit well with him. He has been here for years now‚ so he was not feeling well at all‚” Mhlongo said‚ explaining Palacios's absence from the field for the final eight minutes of the game once play resumed.
Mhlongo refused to blame Pirates' players for the thrashing.
“Look, we can't blame the boys. Sundowns were good on the day and they deserved to win.”
Asked what Bucs could say to their fans‚ Mhlongo replied: “To say sorry — what else can you say. And we can say sorry with the mouth‚ but the next game should say sorry to them by winning it.”
On how Pirates‚ now in 10th place‚ can somehow rescue their season‚ Mhlongo said: “Look, when you're down‚ you can‘t fall any more. The only thing you can do is to stand up and move forward. Six goals in one game is not acceptable‚ never mind two.
“But what can you do? All you can do is move forward for our supporters‚ to say sorry. If your house is burnt down you must use cement and rebuild it.”
Bucs gave debuts in defence to left-back Marc van Heerden and centreback James Okwuosa. The latter had a torrid first game.
“We thought Van Heerden has more quality than [Thembela] Sikhakhane‚” Mhlongo said of the decision to field the new players.
“Obviously, today they didn't play that well. But we acquired them because we believe in them.”
He said Pirates showed character coming back for the final eight minutes and pushing to score.
“It shows humbleness and courage and being apologetic to the supporters to come out and still try at least to get a goal back. I'm proud of the boys to have come out after such a tragic moment when we had supporters fighting‚ and trailing by six goals. So credit to them. At least they are men enough to stand up.”
Bucs are likely to face a heavy fine from the PSL for the chaos at Loftus.
— TMG Digital/TMG Sport