26 May, 2023
One last do-or-die fixture remains for Orlando Pirates in the 2022/23 season, as they prepare for the big Nedbank Cup final clash against Sekhukhune United at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Buccaneers are looking to complete a cup double, having already collected one piece of silverware earlier in the campaign and come up against a side looking to cap what has been their most successful season in their short history with a maiden trophy in the top tier.
Success on Saturday will mean a ninth Nedbank Cup title for the Soweto Giants, who booked their spot in the final at the expense of rivals Kaizer Chiefs, courtesy of an extra-time winner from defender Sandile Mthethwa in a thrilling semifinal encounter at FNB Stadium.
It was the third third time in as many games in the competition that Pirates had to play an extra 30 minutes, following lengthy contests against Venda Football Academy and Dondol Stars in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinal stage respectively, with the latter fixture decided by a penalty shootout.
They head into the final on the back of their biggest win of the season, a 4-0 routing of AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium last Sunday, which made it three wins and two draws in their last five games across competitions.
The Buccaneers will be up against a side that notched up an important win of their own in their final league fixture - a 1-0 victory over SuperSport United - which clinched their first-ever top-eight finish in the first tier of South African football.
The victory was however their first outright win in their five most recent games, which include the Nedbank Cup semi against Stellenbosch, where they secured a spot in the final after prevailing in a tense penalty shootout.
Babina Noko have however proven difficult to beat, with only one loss recorded in their last 10 outings in all competitions.
Midfielder Makhehleni Makhaula is one player guaranteed to sit out the final as he serves a one-match ban after picking up his fourth yellow card of the season against AmaZulu, while defender Tapelo Xoki will likely slot back into the match day squad after serving a suspension of his own.
The Buccaneers’ midfield could also be bolstered by the possible return of Thabang Monare, who did not feature in Durban, but has since been heavily-involved in the preparations for the big fixture.
Other possible starters include the experienced duo of skipper Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch, who both returned to action in the second half against Usuthu after both spent a brief spell in the sidelines.
For Sekhukhune, veteran left-back Rodrick Kabwe is likely to miss out as he continues to recover from an injury picked up in April.
Miguel Timm (Orlando Pirates): Not only has Timm been a standout player in Bucs colours, but he has also emerged as one of the stars of this year’s Nedbank Cup. The midfielder plays a crucial role in the team’s structure both on defence and attack and has been central to many big moments in Pirates’ run to the final.
Edwin Gyimah (Sekhukhune United): The hard-tackling defender has been a rock at the back for Babina Noko, while also making an impact at the other end of the pitch come set piece time. Having appeared on the scoresheet twice in as many games, the 32-year-old will look to make another telling contribution in what is a huge occasion.
A historic occasion awaits the two sides, who are set for their first-ever cup encounter, which is also only their fifth meeting overall.
Their most recent clash dates back only a couple of weeks ago, when the Limpopo outfit forced a stalemate at Orlando Stadium in a game that ended with a one-all scoreline with Gyimah cancelling out Terrence Dzvukamanja’s 31st minute opener inside the first half.
The result did however mean that the Buccaneers maintained their slight upper hand in their short rivalry with Babina Noko, having won their first two encounters and losing once.
How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs Sekhukhune United
The highly-anticipated clash is scheduled to kick off at 18:00, and will be broadcast live on SuperSport PSL and Variety 4. Live updates will also be provided across all Orlando Pirates social media platforms, as well as the Club’s official app.
Tickets for the game have been sold out.
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