Pirates need a strong team effort to beat the mighty Sundowns – Tapelo Xoki

Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates’ upcoming MTN 8 semi-final first leg clash against Gauteng foes Sundowns at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon will, arguably, be the biggest game Tapelo Xoki has played in since joining the Sea Robbers from AmaZulu during the off-season.

Xoki has had a steady start to life in Johannesburg and has been a key performer for Jose Riveiro’s side so far this season.

Sundowns will head into the two-legged tie as favourites but Pirates will know that they have nothing to lose. Sundowns have also shown that they are not untouchable this season as they have dropped points in three of their nine league games so far, including two losses.

“It’s a team sport. If I am given a chance, I have to do the best that I can like everyone else. We have to treat it like every other game. We must just prepare for the game and make sure that we play as a team. I’ve adjusted to the club and teammates and I’m sure that they have also adjusted to me. It has been a transition that has been smooth for me,” said Xoki.

After several years of underachievement, Pirates are aiming to use this season to rebuild and challenge for all the trophies that are on offer to them. They have shown signs of improvement under new coach Riveiro this season. They sit second in the league standings and are five points adrift of log leaders Sundowns, having played a game less.

While the season is still fairly young, Xoki also believes that the tie against Sundowns gives his side an accurate gauge to see what level they are at despite Masandawana being, without doubt, the best team in the country.

“It will be a test for us to see how far we can go. They are the defending champions. We also want to go all the way. To go all the way, we will have to beat every team that we face. We have to approach this as we would any other opponent. We also have to face the defending champions and give them the respect they deserve,” said Xoki.

As far as recent games between the teams go, Sundowns have totally dominated, winning their last five games against Pirates, scoring 14 times and conceding twice in the process.


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