Playoffs ate into our pre-season, says wounded Leopards

Morgan Shivambu, caretaker coach of Black Leopards. Pic: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Black Leopards had little time to prepare for the new DStv Premiership as they were involved in the promotion playoffs where they triumphed over Ajax Cape Town, now known as Cape Town Spurs, and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila F.C, who parachuted themselves into the top flight as they bought Bidvest Wits’ status.

Leopards lost their opening match of the season to a 10-man SuperSport United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night, succumbing 2-0, in a match that was threatened by inclement weather. Just nine minutes into kick-off, referee Thando Ndzandzeka had to halt proceedings. However, the match was continued after about an hour of suspension.

Lidoda Duvha co-coach Morgan Shivambu said playing against Matsatsantsa A Pitori was one way to gauge how far they have prepared.

“We had only three weeks after the playoffs to prepare and for this game it was okay because we played against a good team in SuperSport just to measure up how we are after we have been preparing in the past three weeks,” said Shivambu.

His side are up against Baroka FC in the first instalment of the Limpopo derby and Shivambu is confident that come Tuesday, they will give Bakagaga Ba Mphahlele a run for their money.

“We can see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we can still do better. In the next coming game we are going to do much better. With Baroka it is a derby so I think we will take it very seriously especially after we have lost, we have to collect maximum points playing at home,” Shivambu said.

Meanwhile, the sending off of Onismor Bhasera has dealt Kaitano Tembo’s side a big blow in personnel as he is already without influential players like Sipho Mbule and Siyabonga Nhlapho. His team was depleted to the point where he had to put two goalkeepers on the bench to make up numbers as the substitutes list comprised a lot of youngsters.

“The game changed when Bhasera was sent off but we showed character in terms of our ethic and the guys worked their socks off and we deserved to win the game,” said Tembo.

He added: “We believe in the players that we have in the team and the guys know that we are a very compact team. Whoever is available is prepared to work their socks off. I am happy that we have given opportunities to everyone and the guys are eager to play.”

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