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Defending MTN 8 champions Orlando Pirates will begin their title defense when they face Sekhukhune United on Saturday at Orlando stadium.

Both sides met in three encounters last season including the Nedbank Cup final where the Buccaneers won the match 2-1 and completed their double after a few years of drought season.

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The Buccaneers’ head coach Jose Riveiro believes it’s going to be difficult for his team when they play against Babina Noko due to the tactics and how Sekhukhune applies themselves on the field of play.

“It’s a well-organised team, patient in their approach and they have different ways of playing during the game. It’s very uncomfortable to play against them. We know it and it’s not going to be an exception on Saturday, but we’re prepared,” Riveiro said.

However, the Spaniard is hoping the Sea Robbers fans will give their support on Saturday by coming to the stadium in order to have the advantage to go through to the next round of the tournament.

“When we say playing at home, it’s an advantage. It’s because you can get the support and warmth from your fans,” he said.

“I’m sure they understand how important [their support] is going to be in a game like this. It’s a knockout game and hopefully, they’ll come in numbers to Orlando and support us all the way because it can really be an extra advantage for us.”

ORLANDO PIRATES COACH EXPECTS DIFFICULT ENCOUNTER WHEN THEY FACE SEKHUKHUNE

Riveiro insists the expectations are still the same at his club even though they won the MTN 8 last season. He believes every time his team go to the field, they are carrying the history of the club hence every game they play they want to win it.

“No, you think if we were not champions it was going to be a friendly game for us? It’s the same,” he stated.

“Every time we go to the field, we’re carrying the history of the club and the expectations of our fans. It’s a must to go to every game with the intention to win. Maybe that’s what you call pressure in this case, but it’s positive pressure.

“We’re representing a big club, we know it. It’s not in our mind to not be there fighting until the last second for a victory. It doesn’t matter whether there’s pressure or no pressure. We want to go through and we know what we need.”

Pirates have returned to winning ways after an impressive performance on Tuesday when they beat Royal AM 4-2 at Orlando Stadium.

By Katleho Hlalele

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