’It's not revenge; it's just a game’, says Happy Jele ahead showdown against Mamelodi Sundowns
By Zaahier Adams Apr 14, 2021
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CAPE TOWN – History may be on the side of Orlando Pirates but captain Happy Jele knows that’s its only current form that matters when they meet Mamelodi Sundowns in tomorrow’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final.
Pirates and Sundowns have met five times in Cup competitions over the last decade, with the Buccaneers dominating these encounters. The Nedbank Cup, in particular, has been kind to Pirates with the Sea Robbers winning all three previous meetings – all quarter-finals just like tomorrow’s clash.
Sundowns, though, have been the dominant team in South African football for a period of time now with the three-time defending champions once again leading the table by six points despite having played two matches less than their nearest rivals.
Equally, the Brazilians are a force to be reckoned with the on the African continent and have once again progressed from the CAF Champions League group stages this past weekend.
"Both teams have good qualities, you know, and we're playing against a good team in Africa. They've been doing well in the Champions League and in the league,” Jele told reporters yesterday.
"We respect them, but on the day it's a game, a game of football for us as a team, as Pirates, we are big also, we are going to go there because we want win.
"It's a game, we're going to fight as Orlando Pirates, and we want to get the result to go to the next round, and it's not going to be easy for them."
Pirates will have further motivation to do well tomrorow after Sundowns beat them 1-0 in the first league game of the New
Year. Jele, though, does not want his charges to focus on the “revenge” factor and instead just channel their energies on what lays ahead.
"It's not revenge; it's just a game. The most important thing is that it is a competition. It's either you're in, or you're out," said the Bucs skipper.
"So, for us, it's not about revenge. We're focusing on ourselves as a team, we want to go through to the next round, and to do that, we have to push harder.
"I would say it's a motivation, to play two games and we can be in the final. It's a motivation on its own.
"But first we need to focus on the game that is coming, which is the quarter-final, that's the most important thing. If we fight from there, then we go to the semi-final.
"I believe if we put more effort then we will go to the next round."
Pirates are sweating on the fitness of some key players, including Thembinkosi Lorch, and could be without at least eight regulars.
Midfielder Thabang Monare, who has missed Pirates’ last two
CAF Confederation Cup matches due to injury, is among the doubtful starters.