12 May, 2023
Orlando Pirates are set for their final home game of the 2022/23 season as they prepare to face Sekhukhune United in a DStv Premiership fixture at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
It’s the first of two big clashes in a space of a month between the two sides, who will also be locking horns in the Nedbank Cup final in late May.
This particular fixture will however be more than just a dress rehearsal for the big final, as the result on Saturday carries the potential to shape the upcoming season for both sides, with the Buccaneers looking to secure a spot in the CAF Champions League while their opponents could ensure participation in the MTN 8 should they pull off a strong finish to the season.
They return to league football on the back of a grueling weekend of cup semifinals, where Pirates needed 120 minutes to dispose of Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs - a fixture that was followed by another elongated encounter involving Sekhukhune, who prevailed over Stellenbosch after going all the way to a penalty shootout.
The Buccaneers’ victory extended their unbeaten run to ten games across competitions, with four wins secured in their last five league fixtures, where they have collected 13 points to take up second place in the standings.
With six points on offer in the remainder of the season, they will look to claim a crucial three against Sekhukhune, which will take them a step closer to qualifying for the continent’s premier club competition.
For Babina Noko, a win on Saturday could place them higher up in the top half of the table as they look to keep their fate in their own hands in their bid to compete in one more cup competition next season.
They are currently in seventh place, courtesy of eight points collected in their five most recent Premiership outings, and will be eager to return to winning ways after failing to win each of their last two league games.
Sekhukhune could be forced to continue without veteran defender Rodrick Kabwe, who has been out of action for over a month, while goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata is also likely to remain sidelined after an even longer spell out.
Pirates have had injury worries of their own in recent weeks, and had another scare in the form of defender Bandile Shandu, whose involvement in the semifinal was cut short when he had to be stretchered off in the first half.
The player resumed light training earlier in the week and could soon be back in action, alongside midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch, who is also inching closer to a return.
Kermit Erasmus (Orlando Pirates): The striker’s experience has been a crucial factor for the Buccaneers on attack, leading to some big moments in the current campaign. Fresh from getting on the scoresheet over the weekend, Erasmus’ contributions have not been limited to finding the net, but has also been key in providing opportunities for his teammates.
Chibuike Ohizu (Sekhukhune United): After missing much of the first half of the season, Ohizu has been heavily-involved in the latter part of the campaign, where he has been a regular feature on the scoresheet. Since working his way back into the starting lineup, the striker has contributed seven goals across competitions including a strike in his side’s most recent league game.
It was Sekhukhune who emerged victorious the last time these two sides met, scoring two unanswered goals against a 10-man Pirates outfit in Polokwane back in October last year.
It was their first win in what is a relatively young rivalry stretching only three games thus far, with the Buccaneers boasting two victories after completing a league double in the 2021/22 campaign.
A total of six goals have been scored in the three games that have passed, shared evenly at three apiece.
How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs Sekhukhune United
The game kicks off at 15:00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport PSL (202) and Variety 4 (209). You can also follow the action by keeping an eye on live updates posted across Orlando Pirates social media platforms, as well as the Club’s official app.
Tickets are still available online at TicketPro and selected retail outlets, as well as at the Orlando East Community Hall four hours before kick-off.