For Orlando Pirates to play the role of the underdogs going into Thursday’s Nedbank Cup quarterfinal clash at Loftus Versfeld Stadium against Mamelodi Sundowns does seem a little preposterous.
Yet, Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer is convinced that Sundowns are firm favourites, insisting that his troops have absolutely nothing to lose in an encounter dubbed Battle of the Stars.
The Tshwane outfit has been in terrific form as they went 28 matches unbeaten (20 wins and eight wins) before suffering a rare 2-0 defeat in the Caf Champions League at the hands of Algerian’s CR Belouizdad – ending the unbeaten streak.
“Sundowns are the favourites in this game, they have the best team at this moment in the league and Caf Champions League as well. We know that we have a good squad and players that can win titles, but we are honest, we come up against a good team,” said Zinnbauer on Tuesday in the pre-match press conference.
According to Zinnbauer, the Sundowns clash is a good opportunity for his men to measure themselves against the ‘best team in South Africa’.
“I think they [Sundowns] know exactly what we want, and we know exactly what they want but it is good for us as we can measure ourselves against the top team in the league, a Champions League team,” added Zinnbauer.
“They play very well, this is good for our players, we get more experience and also we have a chance to win this game and we are looking toward to it. It will also be good for me as a coach to see the reaction of the players facing a quality side such as Sundowns.”
However, the German mentor also warned Sundowns that Pirates will put up a good “fight” as they are eager to book their place in the last four of the Nedbank Cup.
“We have a chance, and we will fight. We want to go to the next round, the semifinals – that’s the direction we want to go in this week,” he said.
“I asked the players: ‘what do you want, you want to go forward? Then you have to win the game’. It is a big game for us.”
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi