AmaZulu out for vengeance against Pirates

SANDILE Mthethwa and Thabiso Sesane of Orlando Pirates celebrate after their last game against AmaZulu in the 2024 Nedbank Cup. | BackpagePix

SANDILE Mthethwa and Thabiso Sesane of Orlando Pirates celebrate after their last game against AmaZulu in the 2024 Nedbank Cup. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 20, 2024


AMAZULU coach Pablo Franco is optimistic that “third time’s the charm” when his side take on Orlando Pirates in Orlando in their league encounter this evening (5.30pm).

Pirates’ coach Jose Riveiro waved his magic Spanish wand last season as he won the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup, while finishing second in the DStv Premiership.

But that prowess was expected to be tested this season by his countryman, Franco, who’d have been in his first full season at AmaZulu after arriving in July.

That hasn’t been the case. Riveiro is still head and shoulders above his countryman. He’s won the MTN8 and can still defend the Nedbank Cup and second spot.

Franco, on the other hand, can only save Usuthu’s season by finishing in the top eight, depending on whether they don’t drop points and other results go their way.

Franco has also stuttered in the Spanish battle against Riveiro as he salvaged a point in the league before losing the Nedbank Cup quarter-final battle last weekend.

The 43-year-old cried foul over the officiating during the 4-2 loss at Moses Mabhida, saying they deserved to eliminate Pirates from the cup.

So Franco will not only get a chance for revenge when the two teams meet in the league tonight, but to beat his countryman for the first time this season.

“The good thing is that we’ve already faced them twice this season. We got one point in the first game when they had more time to prepare than us,” he said.

“In the second time, it was under the same conditions. But we were competitive and played one of the best games of the season in the PSL.

“We therefore know that we are going to have our possibilities if we adjust things that we didn’t control so well the other day.”

Franco is not naïve thinking their “third time’s the charm” will come easy, let alone in Orlando against one of the best teams in Africa.

“The good thing now is that we have the opportunity to play them again so it’s going to be an away game – and more difficult,” Martin said.

“We know the challenges and difficulties of playing Pirates at Orlando. We already saw they are not only one of the best teams in South Africa, but on the continent.”

But like any other wounded side seeking revenge, Franco and his team have used the past six days to plot the strategies they’ll use to take down the Sea Robbers.

“If we take advantage of the chances that we are going to have and exploit their weaknesses, we should do better,” Franco explained.

“Confidence is going to be there. Tactically, technically and mentally we need to understand that it’s going to be another challenge.”

Beating Pirates is part of the bigger picture for AmaZulu. They are still focused on finishing in a respectable place, rather than their 12th spot of last season.

“But the ambition of beating them after so long, I think it’s going to be more than enough. We want to finish the league in the best position,” he said.

“That’s going to happen when we are winning as many games as possible, keep growing. I see the players are willing to do that and the club is supporting us.”