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Bucs face Ezenkhosi in season opener 06/08/04
Orlando Pirates and Jomo Cosmos kick off the 2004/05 season when they clash at the Johannesburg Stadium tonight.

The off season has seen plenty of off-the-field dramas going on, but for those people who care more about the action on the field than what is happening behind the scenes, tonight is the night to get down to the Johannesburg Stadium to witness the kick off of what promises to be an intriguing season.

Games between these two clubs always carry extra significance in that they have had always had close ties - Ezenkhosi owner and coach Jomo Sono is a former Buccaneers legend, while quite a few players in recent years have made the move from Cosmos to Pirates.

In some ways Cosmos has almost been seen as a 'feeder club' to Pirates, although in the last couple of years the flow of players has somewhat dried up.

All is not rosy with Pirates after they were knocked out of both the VodaCom Challenge Cup and the Telkon Charity Cup in the first round, and new coach Kosta Papic is going to be under immediate pressure to produce the goods from the word go.

Papic took over officially on Wednesday from caretaker coach Augusto Palacios and faces a tough test tonight against the wily Sono.

The Yugoslav will soon feel the wrath of the Pirates fans if he does not get the Bucs back to winning ways, although he feels that he can produce the goods with the squad he has inherited.

"There is lots of work to do but there is tremendous potential," Papic is reported as saying on News24 earlier in the week.

"I have a team I believe can deliver at the end of the season. There are a lot of good youngsters at the club. If the need arises, we will go into the market."

Pirates will once again be looking to influential playmaker Benedict Tso Vilakazi for inspiration in the middle of the park, while Steve Lekoelea looks like he is getting back to the kind of form that he is noted for and is probably the best exponent of free kicks in the country at present.

At the back the return of defender Lucky Lekgwathi from injury is a big boost to the team.

Cosmos, meanwhile, have lost their long serving inspirational skipper Tico-Tico Bucaune to SuperSport, but as usual Sono seems to have discovered some 'hidden gems' in the form of two newly signed strikers - Cameroonian marksman Jean Njoh and Zambian junior international striker Christopher Katongo.
Another striker, Tshepo Malesa, also seems a bright prospect. Malesa scored last Sunday when Cosmos beat Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1, and he is confident ahead of tonight's game.

"Please tell Pirates to come prepared because we are ready to match them in all departments of the game, and ultimately, the maximum points will be ours at the end of proceedings,' he warned Pirates on the Cosmos website.

Sono will be looking for a marked improvement on last season, where despite winning the SAA Supa 8 Cup, Ezenkhosi did not even qualify to defend their title after finishing a lowly 13th in the league.

So tonight's game is vital for both teams and promises to dish up plenty of action.

The last five results between the two clubs are as follows....

09/02/03 - Pirates - 0:0 - Cosmos (PSL)
24/05/03 - Cosmos - 1:1 - Pirates (PSL)
08/08/03 - Pirates - 1:2 - Cosmos (Supa 8)
31/01/04 - Pirates - 1:3 - Cosmos (PSL)
06/06/04 - Cosmos - 1:1 - Pirates (PSL)



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