The Soweto Derby might be more than a week away but the mind games have started with Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer arguing that the pressure is on Kaizer Chiefs as the Buccaneers aren’t looking at the title.
That’s not entirely true though, as the Buccaneers have started to believe that they can turn a disappointing season into a memorable one.
The team have shown great character and determination to win eight games in a row under Zinnbauer and in terms of form, Pirates go into next weekend’s derby as the favourites with Chiefs stuttering at the top.
Zinnbauer is deflecting the high expectations of The Ghost, who haven’t forgotten that Amakhosi eliminated them from the Telkom Knockout and won their first round clash.
Six points separate first-placed Chiefs from Pirates in second, but Amakhosi have a game in hand.
The Soweto giants’ rivalry and Mamelodi Sundowns’ dominance over the last couple of years will make the finale an interesting one in the Premiership race.
“We have another pressure at the moment, we are happy and glad that we will be playing against Kaizer Chiefs. Amakhosi is now under a little bit of pressure after they lost yesterday (to Maritzburg United on Saturday),” Zinnbauer said.
“We are only focusing on the next game, which is Kaizer Chiefs at the moment. We will do the same for the game after that.
“We aren’t looking at the title, there are a lot of points that you need to catch Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns or Wits, who haven’t played as many games as us.
“We don’t look at the title, we look at getting three points from the next game.
“I hope that we make a good performance for the fans, this is a plus game for us and we have nothing to lose here. We want to put on a top performance for the support and maybe we make good work and we get three points.”
The Buccaneers’ 1-0 win over Black Leopards put pressure on Amakhosi at the top.
It looked like Pirates would return from Thohoyandou with just a point, but a fortuitous own-goal in the 90th minute gave them maximum points.
Pirates’ hero, however, was Wayne Sandilands, who was solid in goal and produced two brilliant saves.
“We conceded a late goal after a top performance (against Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup), and today we have the luck,” Zinnbauer said.
“We had Sandilands and we had luck. It was a top performance from Sandilands, but we had an opponent that was very strong in the first half.
“They made good counter-attacks and they had good corners and top free-kicks.
“(Vincent) Pule was lucky, you need this when you have another top performance. We worked for this and you got luck.”
Pirates’ elimination from the Nedbank Cup means they won’t be in action this week, while Amakhosi visit Highlands Park on Saturday in the last 16.
Only after that match will they prepare for the derby, while the Buccaneers have already started preparing for what promises to be a titanic battle.
“We are fighting 90 minutes for the result,” Zinnbauer said.
“We have success and results at the moment. The supporters want this. They want fighters, players who are hungry and want to win the game. We want the players to perform at 100 percent. If you work hard, then you get lucky.”