I think it is fair question considering Pirates were dismal towards the end of last season.
Well, it is simple really. Let me explain by using some of their recent games as a point of reference.
When Bucs took to the field against Zamalek on August 17 at Orlando Stadium, they did so with a very strong, balanced line-up.
Of course Thandani Ntshumayelo was missing through injury and disaster struck inside 20 minutes when Andile Jali was forced off with a knock on his thigh.
So they had to do without two of the players who played so well in the 3-0 win over Al Ahly in Egypt on August 4 at El Gouna Stadium, yet they went on to beat Zamalek 4-1. Even by Pirates’ standards, that was quite impressive.
Against Chiefs over the weekend, Stuart Baxter’s observation was that the "first 15 minutes was decisive in terms of how the game turned out. Pirates got more confident and we got more nervous.”
However, there is more to Pirates’ game than that. Daine Klate said something before the match during a press conference ahead of the Soweto Derby that on any day could be dismissed as typical talk, but what he said, in my view, has been the difference in Pirates’ play of late.
Klate said: “I think the guys are showing a lot of love for each other at this point in time… so whichever XI goes out there we just wanna play for each other. The spirit in camp now takes us back to when we won the treble.”
That’s it – “playing for each other”. It is all about teamwork now, so much so that even when Roger de Sa was asked about Lehlohonolo Masalesa, who was Man of the Match, after the Chiefs game, he couldn’t comment directly on the player.
Instead, De Sa was going on about the whole team and rightly so. “I think he (Masalesa) was just one of many (who played well). I thought Oupa (Manyisa) was great. I thought ‘Sox’ (Tlou Segolela) was great in the first half. Daine Klate worked his socks off and the guys at the back; unbelievable.”
We all know De Sa has a lot of quality players at his disposal, but Pirates players needed to do more.
Now, it is quite clear in Pirates’ game that when they lose possession, even the so-called attacking players like Sox, who usually take it easy after losing the ball, have been helping out to get back the ball and to borrow from Masalesa’s words, “That is a great example of teamwork”.
Chiefs can attest to that, especially in that first 15 minutes that Baxter described as a “mini disaster” for his team.
Not quite a disaster for Chiefs. In truth, they were up against a team that showed a lot of commitment on the day and judging by their recent results, it is paying off for De Sa and his men because they are now playing for each other.
As they say, nothing beats teamwork.
Tiyani wa ka Mabasa
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