Preview: Royal AM

Orlando Pirates return to KwaZulu-Natal this Sunday for their next DStv Premiership fixture against Royal AM at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Just six league fixtures remain for the Buccaneers as they look for a strong finish to the campaign, with an eye on strengthening their bid for participation in continental football next season.

Form Guide

They journey to Pietermaritzburg while in third place in the standings after notching up a hard-fought three points in their last outing at home to AmaZulu. The win was their second in a row in the league, taking their points tally over the last five games to 10 thanks to three wins and a draw.

All of Pirates’ victories during this period have come on home turf, while they have managed just one point out of a possible six on the road. It’s an unwanted record they will be desperate to overturn as away fixtures currently make up half of their remaining league games.

A win on Sunday moves them back up to second place, but this could be a tricky assignment against a Royal AM side that has proven unpredictable throughout the season.

Thwihli Thwahla go into the fixture looking for a way up from 12th place, where they are currently situated after a one-all stalemate in their KZN derby clash against Lamontville Golden Arrows last Saturday.

The point earned against Abafana Bes’thende took them to seven points in their last five matches, where they have won both their home games alongside defeats away to Stellenbosch and TS Galaxy.

Their sights are now set on their game against the Buccaneers with three points placing them within touching distance of the top eight, where they will be looking to finish at the end of the season.

Team News

Changes can be expected in the Pirates team that will line up at Harry Gwalla, with three First Team players suspended for the clash.

Sipho Chaine, Deon Hotto, and Miguel Timm were among the 12 players booked in a highly physical encounter against AmaZulu. The yellow cards picked up by the trio triggered a one-match suspension for each player, ruling them out of Sunday’s game.

For Royal AM, coach John Maduka has close to a full squad to call upon while midfielder Moffat Mdluli and goalkeeper Marlon Heugh – both yet to feature this season – are likely to remain sidelined.

Key Players

Tshegofatso Mabasa (Orlando Pirates): The 27-year-old has been the form marksman in the league, and added to his goal tally with another well-taken strike against Usuthu. Clinical in front of goal with excellent movement inside the box, Mabasa is a classic goal-poacher with an uncanny ability to position himself at the right place at the right time.

Kabelo Mahlasela (Royal AM): Thwihli Thwahla will likely be led out by the Bucs Academy product, who has demonstrated his value throughout the season. Mahlasela has mainly operated in the centre of the midfield, occasionally advancing into the number 10 pocket, and has chipped in with four league assists.

Head-to-Head

Six goals were scored when the two sides last met with the Buccaneers emerging victorious in an entertaining encounter at Orlando Stadium, which finished 4-2 in their favour courtesy of a brace from Zakhele Lepasa, accompanied by goals from Monnapule Saleng and Bandile Shandu.

Pirates have met Royal AM five times in the league, winning twice, while three games have ended with a share of the spoils.

The Buccaneers are also comfortably in front regarding goals scored in the fixture after finding the net six times, while their opponents boast just three goals.

How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs Royal AM

The game is scheduled to kick off at 15:00 and will be televised live on SuperSport PSL. You can also catch live updates posted across Orlando Pirates social media platforms, including the Club’s official app.

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