JOHANNESBURG – THE Â Orlando Pirates camp remains upbeat, despite losing some momentum ahead of their Soweto Derby clash against runaway Premiership leaders Kaizer Chiefs this weekend, says Buc head coach Eric Tinkler.
The Buccaneers stretched their unbeaten run to eight straight league matches with a 1-1 draw against Free State Stars in Phuthaditjhaba on Wednesday night, but the hosts brought an end to the visiting side’s four-game winning streak.
While Pirates remained fourth in the standings, Chiefs regained their 10-point lead over Wits at the top of the log with a 1-0 win over Ajax Cape Town in a simultaneous fixture at FNB Stadium.
“They (Stars) made it very difficult for us and worked their socks off, so it’s back to the drawing board,” Tinkler said.
“We’ve got a big one coming up this weekend and at least we go into that game with a lot of confidence.
“We’ve still got an unbeaten record, so that’s a good thing.”
Pirates took the lead in the eighth minute of the midweek fixture, with Kermit Erasmus collecting a neat through ball down the middle and slicing the ball in from just inside the area.
With seven minutes left in the first half, however, Moeketsi Sekola equalised for the hosts from long range to secure a share of the points.
Stars extended their unbeaten run to five league matches but continued to struggle in 13th place in the standings, in an attempt to stay in touch with a tight mid-table battle.
Ea Lla Koto were set to face Pretoria giants Mamelodi Sundowns in another home clash on Saturday.
“This match was good preparation for the Sundowns game and the boys are becoming solidified. Their mental capacity is getting stronger and stronger,” said Stars coach Kinnah Phiri.
“Looking at the game over the weekend, I think we’ll put up another battle and give them a very tough time.” – Sapa