Orlando Pirates’ desperation to finish in the Absa Premiership top eight in their 80th anniversary season comes to a head in their second-last match against Ajax Cape Town at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.
Pirates‚ in 10th place‚ need to reverse a string of draws under new coach Kjell Jonevret and earn three points that would see them – barring a win by many goals – still outside the top eight on goal difference.
The Buccaneers are likely to need another win against Lamontville Golden Arrows at Moses Mabhida Stadium on the day the PSL culminates on Saturday‚ May 27 to guarantee a top-half finish.
Only that – and a possible win in the Nedbank Cup‚ where Bucs meet Arrows in the semifinals at Princess Magogo Stadium this Saturday – can salvage something from Pirates’ tempus horribilus.
Bucs drew a sixth league game out of 11 – having won two and lost two of the rest – with a goalless result against Bloemfontein Celtic away on May 10.
Jonevret’s assessment that Pirates had played quite well is all very well.
But one senses he will need to get more from his players than just nice performances if Bucs are to get the winning results they need that might just be crucial to Jonevret keeping his job.
“I think football is not always fair. I thought we played a good game against Celtic‚” Jonevret had said.
“We created a lot of chances on a terrible pitch. We played OK football.
“I hope that game gave us confidence for the two games remaining and the cup semifinals on the weekend.
“Because against Celtic I thought there were a lot of players who played better than they had for a long time.
“We want to win of course. But OK.”
Pirates beat Ajax 2-1 away in the first round match in September when the Urban Warriors were still being coached by Roger de Sa.
This Ajax are a far more confident team under Stanley Menzo‚ who‚ after a flirtation with the relegation zone‚ has guided the young Cape side to three wins in a row and Pirates’ coveted eighth place.
Remaining two games:
Wednesday‚ May 17: v Ajax Cape Town‚ Orlando Stadium
Saturday‚ May 27: v Golden Arrows‚ Moses Mabhida Stadium
Wednesday‚ May 17: v Orlando Pirates‚ Orlando Stadium
Saturday‚ May 27: v Baroka FC‚ Cape Town Stadium