3 February, 2023
Orlando Pirates face a different test this coming weekend as they host the table-topping Mamelodi Sundowns in a DStv Premiership fixture at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
This highly anticipated encounter headlines the weekend’s league action as the two sides lock horns for the fourth time in competitive action this season.
Three points will be high on the agenda before focus shifts to cup action in the following week, with the Buccaneers aiming to close the gap between themselves and the log leaders, who look to take a step closer to the league title.
It is a clash between two teams coming off wins in their most recent fixtures, both completing 2-0 wins over the past weekend.
The Soweto Giants are on a three-match winning streak after their victory away to Marumo Gallants and have an unblemished record at home since the start of a new year, having won both their games at Orlando Stadium convincingly.
After dropping down to eighth place in early January, the Buccaneers have now jumped up to fourth in the standings and could climb as high as second place if they continue in their free-scoring ways on Saturday.
It will not be as straightforward though, as they come up against a side that has pretty much stepped into each of their fixtures this season as overwhelming favourites.
Sundowns are on a remarkable run of 14 consecutive league victories, and are perched at the top of the standings with 21 points separating themselves from the rest of the chasing pack.
With their eye on a sixth consecutive league title, the Tshwane Giants are also looking to maintain a perfect away record this year.
The fixture comes days after the conclusion of the January transfer window, where Pirates confirmed the departure of striker Zakhele Lepasa who has been loaned out to SuperSport United after welcoming some new arrivals.
The latest addition in the Bucs camp is midfielder Makhehlene Makhaula, who was announced on deadline day, joining Craig Martin and Souaibou Marou as the Club’s mid-season acquisitions.
Sundowns have been the quieter of the two teams in the transfer market, with no January signings confirmed.
Both camps have also had to work through long-term injuries over the past month, with a number of players still yet to feature in the new year.
Pirates have the likes of Olisa Ndah and Thembinkosi Lorch nearing a return after weeks on the sidelines, while Sundowns have had to do without players such as Terrence Mashego and Erwin Saavedra.
Ahead of Saturday’s clash, the visitors have at least one confirmed absentee in attacking midfielder Marcos Allende, who was given his marching orders during the 2-0 win over Sekhukhune United and will start serving out a two-match suspension.
Thabang Monare (Orlando Pirates): The midfielder has repaid faith in him by churning out consistent performances in the centre of the park, and another big display will be required on Saturday. Monare’s unmatched work ethic has made him a regular in the starting lineup, where he has made a valuable contribution to the Buccaneers’ recent success.
Peter Shalulile (Mamelodi Sundowns): With nine goals in only 14 league games, the Namibian international is an ever-present goal threat and will command attention from the defence. The 29-year-old leads the goal-scoring charts this season and will be aiming to hit double figures at Orlando Stadium.
In the three competitive meetings between the two sides this season, all three possible results have been realised.
Following a goalless draw in the first leg of their MTN 8 semifinal tie, the Buccaneers clinched a 3-0 win before the Brazilians claimed a home victory in the league fixture played last December.
Despite recently ending a lengthy winless run against the Tshwane outfit, the Soweto Giants will head into Saturday’s encounter still in search of an elusive league victory against their Gauteng rivals, a feat they last achieved in January 2020.
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. Live updates will also be provided on all of Orlando Pirates’ social media platforms.
Tickets are still available online at TicketPro and selected retail outlets, as well as at the Orlando East Community Hall on Saturday, four hours before kick-off.