Sono shakes in his boots
JOMO Sono thrust his head into his cupped hands and buried it in a brief albeit telling moment, about the prospect of facing a menacing Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium tomorrow.
This was moments after his team Jomo Cosmos gave away three league points to Ajax Cape Town after leading for 70 minutes and upon learning that Pirates had triumphed 1-0 over AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday night.
Fighting relegation often inspires players to draw courage from some supernatural realm, but, even so, Sono's fear must have emanated from the less-than-forgiving utterances of Bucs coach Augusto Palacios.
"We must win all remaining eight matches if we are to defend our league championship," Palacios said after the narrow passage from AmaZulu.
When Sono asked about the result of the Pirates game, the answer sent him reeling.
"Oh no! I am playing that team next! It can't be good for us," said the man who was once a known and feared troublemaker on the field of play.
"What was Pirates' score?" Sono asked after the Ajax loss.
"Eish! They won. They are going to come at me running and fighting. It's going to be tough.
But all hope was not lost, Sono surmised: "At least some of my players who weren't available because of injuries or suspensions are coming back. They should be able to stabilise the team."
That said, Cosmos might find themselves being the tonic Bucs' injury-plagued former West Ham and Portuguese midfielder signing Luis Boa Morte needs to regain his lost form and match fitness.
The player, who remains a factor X, returns to the team tomorrow, having been out of football since March 16 with a knee injury.
He is expected to be part of the Pirates team that will play against Cosmos, though there are still some concerns about his fitness level.
Augusto Palacios foresees a difficult match.
"It is always difficult playing against clubs fighting for survival - as you have seen in the game between Kaizer Chiefs and Black Leopards," said Palacios of Leopards' 1-0 victory over Chiefs on Tuesday night, just four days after their 4-0 defeat by the Amakhosi in a cup tie.
"But I will come up with a plan to defeat Cosmos," said the coach. "We have to win all the remaining eight matches to successfully defend the league title," he said about the denouement of the Premier League.
Just how determined an opponent Pirates will find can be gauged from Cosmos spokesman Lucky Mhlathe's revelation of the club's tactics.
"We have now decided to treat all our remaining league games like cup finals and win them too," said Mhlathe.