Orlando Pirates head coach Rhulani Mokwena has proclaimed arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs as favourites going to the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal taking place at the sold out Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon (15:00).
The Soweto Derby comes at a time when Amakhosi are cruising in the Absa Premiership, five points clear at the top and are unbeaten in the last six matches in all competitions.
The same can’t be said about Pirates, who have been stuttering in the league but picked up a win in their last game against Highlands Park on Wednesday evening. Mokwena says Chiefs will come out on Saturday as favorites.
Chiefs last played during their 2-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns in the league last Sunday but Pirates are coming from a grueling 90 minutes against the hard running Highlands Park side. Mokwena expects the opponents to come out fresher for this game.
It’s also the first time that Mokwena is coming up against coach Ernst Middendorp as the head coach and he believes that the German-born mentor has transformed Amakhosi this season, with a clear structure in his team’s play.
Mokwena has also identified Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic as the danger man for Chiefs coming to this game with his brace against Sundowns last weekend, fresh on everyone’s mind. He does say that they have an idea of how to deal with him.
Despite the challenges of Pirates in shutting the back door, one player who deserves credit in this black and white camp from recent weeks, is striker Tshegofatso Mabasa, who has scored five goals in the last six matches in all competitions.
The target man is on fire and Mokwena says credit should go to the 23-year-old’s mother for his good upbringing. – Report by Velile Mnyandu