By MAWANDE MVUMVU
MDANTSANE-based Tornado Football Club coach Jerry "Legs of Thunder" Sikhosana has issued a stern warning to his former club, Orlando Pirates. "If they think they will cruise to an easy victory when the two clubs meet in the Nedbank Cup last 32, they should think again," he said.
Tornado were drawn against the defending champions from Orlando on Thursday night. Pirates won the trophy last year in Durban in the final against Bidvest Wits but Sikhosana believes his team will not be a walk in the park for Pirates. The Nedbank Cup is known for upsets by lower league club sides and Tornado will draw solace from this. "I believe it is better that the draw came out this way. It is better to play the big guns right from the onset. "Going into the game as underdogs gives us the edge," said Sikhosana, who juggles between coaching Tornado and being a SuperSport football analyst. Honoured that he will have to plot the downfall of the club for which he used to score goals, Sikhosana pledged his 100% loyalty to his current employers - Tornado. He said: "Yes, I have been a Pirates player for many years but I'm a professional, so come match day my focus will be on Tornado. "I am just grateful that a team I coach will play against a club that made me who I am today.
Playing against a club as big as Pirates will also give us exposure and recognition. "What I can emphasise, though, is we are not going into that game to add numbers and it is definitely not going to be smooth sailing for Pirates. They will have to sweat and they will feel the presence of a determined Tornado." As to whether Tornado stood any chance of booting Bucs out of the competition, Sikhosana said: "Anything is possible my brother, that is the nature of football."
Tornado have a busy schedule in the Motsepe League in upcoming weeks as they will be engaged in catch-up games having lagged behind during the Nedbank Cup provincial playoff games last year. In the playoffs, on their road to qualifying for the last 32, Tornado bulldozed all their opponents, including last year's representatives of the Eastern Cape, FC Buffalo. Tornado's busy schedule may be to their advantage and the games may be a boost to their fitness levels while Pirates are on a break due to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations competition in Equatorial Guinea. On the other side of the coin, Tornado's league fixtures may lead to fatigue and injuries to their key players by the time their all-important clash with Pirates arrives - which is likely to be in late February although dates have not been confirmed.
The Nedbank Cup comprises all 18 teams playing top flight football in South Africa, eight from the National First Division and another eight from the Safa Leagues. The rest of the draw is: Bellevue Winners Park v Vasco Da Gama; Bidvest Wits v Free State Stars; AmaZulu FC v Golden Arrows; Mpuma-langa Black Aces v Maritzburg United; University of Pretoria v Moroka Swallows; Mamelodi Sundowns v Thanda Royal Zu-lu; SuPerSport United v Polok-wane City; African Warriors v Maluti FET College; Black Leopards v FC Cape Town; Bloemfontein Celtic v Shining Stars or Roses United; Chippa United v Natal United; Phiva Young Stars v Jomo Cosmos; Kaizer Chiefs v African All Stars or Edu Sports FC; Plat-inum Stars v The Magic FC; Mainstay United v Ajax Cape Town.