Orlando Pirates will be one of the first teams on show as senior competitive domestic football resumes in the coming weekend, and preparations have gone well according to First-Team Coach Fadlu Davids.
It has been an unusually long break in action, brought about by the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament, and the Buccaneers have been off the field of play since their last league fixture, which took place in December 2021.
The season officially restarts on Friday, and the Soweto Giants will kick off their Nedbank Cup campaign at home to AmaZulu on Sunday, a fixture that is bound to be tactically demanding for both the players and the technical staff.
Ahead of the fixture, Davids revealed that there have been minor challenges since the team resumed training, while also expressing happiness at having a near-full complement of players to call upon on the day.
“Preparations have gone well, considering that we had disruptions in terms of players falling ill, plus some being away in the DStv Compact Cup,” the Bucs Coach told Orlandopiratesfc.com.
“Luckily, now in the final week before our first game back, it will be the first time that we’ll have at least 95% of our squad back training together. So that is a big positive.”
While this stage of the Nedbank Cup is known for pitting teams up against unfamiliar opposition, it has not been the case for Sunday’s only fixture.
Pirates are one of the few top-flight outfits drawn against a team playing in the same division, and will be more than well-acquainted with AmaZulu, having played them twice in the league in a short period of time.
In the last league game before the festive season break, the Buccaneers edged Usuthu with a 2-1 scoreline at Orlando Stadium, churning out an improved result from the reverse fixture that took place just 15 days prior, which ended in a one-all draw.
According to Davids, the change in competition presents a different dynamic to Sunday’s contest.
“A cup game is different to a league game,” he said. “AmaZulu were a bit more conservative in the league games.
“They managed to get a draw on their home ground. We expect them to fix their mistakes and come out guns blazing against us, knowing that we beat them in the last game of last year.
“It’s going to be a very different encounter with it being a cup game, and the two teams will look at this tournament as their chance to finish the season with silverware.”
Sunday’s encounter at Orlando Stadium is scheduled to kick off at 15:00