Soccer titans raring for clash

Orlando Pirates and Manning Rangers have dished up explosive fare in recent clashes and the rivalry between the two coaches makes Saturday's Castle Premiership meeting at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg that much more intriguing.

It is no secret that there is no love lost between Ted Dumitru and his Rangers counterpart, Gordon Igesund. Dumitru has accused Rangers of playing unimaginative kick-and-rush football in the past, while Igesund has found his opposite number to be arrogant in his comments about other teams.

Last season, when Dumitru was with Sundowns, the two shared the spoils in their two league clashes with a win each, but the Romanian-born coach had the final say in winning the league for the second time in a row. Saturday afternoon they clash again and both have expressed confidence of exploiting areas they see as their opponent's possible Achilles' heel.

For Igesund, it is Bucs's depleted defence that his team have to capitalise on if they are to remain undefeated.

"This is a big, big game. We obviously want to stay unbeaten while they are after their first win of the season. But if there is anything we can exploit at the moment, it's the holes in their defence," said the Mighty Mauler on Thursday.

Dumitru, on the other hand, believes his team will swing it in midfield, should he at least have one of his regular central defenders available again for selection.

"If I can get one or two back, then I believe we will have a great chance," said the Romanian-coach, who had five defenders on the doubtful list on Thursday.

Guy Roger Nzeng of Gabon and Tomas Inguane of Mozambique were still waiting for their work permits, while Papi Khomane, Kamaal Sait and Gerald Rapahlela were nursing injuries.

"Rangers' midfield doesn't seem to be fully cohesive, despite them winning all of their matches so far, and this is the area where I believe the game will be won or lost."

Igesund was delighted on Thursday that Liswa Nduti was available again, following a period of suspension, and that there was hope that Gilbert Mushangazhike would arrive from Zimbabwe in Friday with his work permit in order.

This is the Mighty Maulers' first away game of the season and the Buccaneers, under pressure to record their first win of the season, are sure to make life difficult for them.