By Daniel Eslick
Orlando Pirates were hit by yet another spate of PSL crowd violence on Wednesday night, when Roger de Sa was pelted by vuvuzelas after his side was unable to defend their 1-0 lead against AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The defending champion’s fans’ frustration hit an apex in Durban, as De Sa had to be escorted out of the stadium by security officials, an act which will certainly lead to Pirates being heavily disciplined by the PSL for their fans misdemeanours.
It was the team’s fifth league match without success and with Kaizer Chiefs playing to a draw against Maritzburg United in Polokwane, the Buccaneers lost an opportunity to reduce the deficit between themselves and their eternal rivals.
However, De Sa is still holding onto the belief that his side can recover and defend their PSL title. "It will take a bit more than a vuvuzela to knock me down," he said with defiance at the end of the match against AmaZulu. The statement displays De Sa’s intent to continue coaching at the club, despite many fans calling for his head with seven matches left in the league season.
|CAN PIRATES TURN IT AROUND?
Pirates' upcoming fixtures
||Ajax Cape Town (A)|
||Mamelodi Sundowns (A)|
||Black Leopards (H)|
||Bidvest Wits (A)
||Chippa United (H)
||Maritzburg United (H)|
Pirates have not enjoyed a stellar season under the tutelage of De Sa, who was initially a surprise choice by Irvin Khoza to take over the reins at the Orlando Stadium. However, things have not gone the former Bidvest Wits’ coaches way, with a number of injuries to key players blighting the campaign, including the never-ending issue of Benni McCarthy who seems destined to leave the club despite returning from a long injury lay-off.
A stuttering league campaign, one of the greatest shocks in South African football history after a loss to Maluti FET College in the Nedbank Cup and a consistent lack of fan support has led to De Sa being placed under immense pressure to turn the Buccaneer’s season around. The coach continues to fight for his chance to help his side towards recovery, but is De Sa’s defiance justified?
Pirates’ performances in their next seven matches of the PSL campaign will answer the question. The club may enjoy their CAF Champions League outing this weekend, as it will allow for the side to focus on their continental quest and perhaps cool the flames of their midweek crisis.
Looking at their next seven match-days, there are points available for the defending champions. But none of their games will be easy, as the season comes to a close and teams fight with gritted teeth for every point available.
A trip to struggling Ajax Cape Town is next up for Pirates, followed by another way game to Free State Stars, who have experienced a dip in form during the second half of this campaign.
The team’s rescheduled clash against Mamelodi Sundowns will not be an easy task, while hosting desperate Black Leopards and an away trip to Clive Barker’s Bidvest Wits will prove tricky and perhaps will be the Buccaneer’s greatest test of their resolve to catch up with Chiefs.
Another acid test against relegation-bound Chippa United and a battle against the team which almost dismantled Chiefs in the form of Maritzburg United, will round off the Buccaneer’s season.
The fixtures look tough, but what will concern Roger De Sa the most, will be his side’s inability to find the back of the net and defend their leads when they finally do score. Pirates are not in a good frame of mind, are not in good scoring form and have a leaky ship in defence. In order to catch up with the confident and determined Chiefs, De Sa will have to perform something of a football miracle to change his side’s fortunes and prove that his defiance against the doubters is justified.