28 December, 2022
The DStv Premiership resumes after a lengthy hiatus and kicks off with a mammoth clash between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns on Friday afternoon.
The fixture, which takes place at Loftus Versfeld, is the Buccaneers’ first competitive game since November and will see them renew their bid to climb up the league standings as the ongoing campaign approaches the halfway point.
A win on Friday could narrow the gap between themselves and their opponents - who currently occupy top spot - to just six points.
Jose Riveiro’s troops currently sit in fifth place after enduring indifferent form in the league prior to the break, with just one win in their last five fixtures, which have yielded a total of five points.
They will be aiming to replicate their cup form, following their success in the MTN 8 where they overcame all comers en route to the title.
Pirates will be up against an in-form Sundowns side in search of a seventh straight league win which could see them pull further away from the chasing pack.
The Tshwane outfit is currently five points clear at the summit with a game in hand as they look to add another title to their collection.
Both sides had a few key players sit out a few games prior to the break, and will be hoping to welcome back a few big names ahead of Friday’s clash.
Bucs skipper Innocent Maela and fellow defender Nkosinathi Sibisi were among those who took no part in the Carling Black Label Cup. The duo has since resumed training and will be looking to feature at Loftus.
A competitive debut could be on the cards for striker Evidence Makgopa, who has overcome the ankle injury that delayed his involvement with the squad in the early part of the season.
Meanwhile, Sundowns fans will hope that star forward Peter Shalulile is declared fit for the clash after spending weeks on the sidelines.
He is one of a handful of players to have missed out on some action through injury, along with the likes of Abubeker Nasir and Brian Onyango.
Kermit Erasmus (Orlando Pirates): The experienced forward has hit the ground running on his return to the Club, and will be eyeing another goal against his former side. Having had a hand in five goals in his seven Bucs appearances this season, Erasmus’ creativity and intimate knowledge of the opposition could prove crucial on Friday afternoon.
Cassius Mailula (Mamelodi Sundowns): The youngster has been a revelation since his promotion to the first team, displaying a knack of popping up at the right place at the right time on his way to notching up three goals in as many league appearances. Having made the most of his opportunities so far, he will be looking to continue his hot streak against the Soweto Giants.
The two Gauteng rivals have met twice in competitive football this season, following their two-legged MTN 8 semifinal tie in October.
The Buccaneers will have pleasant memories of the most recent of these encounters, following their emphatic 3-0 victory which booked them a spot in the cup final.
The victory broke their six-game winless run in all competitions against the Brazilians, and they will look to string together some victories in this fixture to signal a turnaround of fortunes.
How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs Mamelodi Sundowns
The game is scheduled to kick-off at 15:30 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport PSL. You can also follow the action by keeping an eye on live updates issued out across Orlando Pirates social media platforms.