10 February, 2023
Orlando Pirates kick off their Nedbank Cup campaign on Saturday with a trip to Wits University Stadium, where they will take on All Stars FC in the Last 32.
Having already collected a trophy this season, the Buccaneers are looking to take a step towards another piece of silverware, but face a potential banana peel against the Championship outfit in the first competitive meeting between the two sides.
The Soweto Giants had a disappointing start to the month, losing at home to Mamelodi Sundowns, with the result bringing their run of three straight victories to an end.
In the five games played so far this year, they have won three and lost twice, and a win on Saturday will be of the utmost importance as they search for their ninth Nedbank Cup title.
Crucial to Pirates’ recent cup success has been their perfect record on the road, with wins away to Royal AM and Sundowns sending them to the MTN 8 final, and they will want to operate in the same vein in what is a longer tournament.
Their opponents have endured disappointing results of their own over the past few weeks, with just one league point earned in their last two games.
All Stars had a bright start to the year, claiming a resounding victory in their preliminary round fixture against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM), who they defeated 7-1 to march to the Last 32.
They collected a further three league wins in their next four matches, but the victories soon dried up as they lost away to Cape Town Spurs before playing to a goalless stalemate in their most recent fixture against Pretoria Callies.
All Stars will be aiming for an upset on Saturday, while also looking to improve on their showing in the competition’s last edition, where they made the quarterfinals for the first time in their history.
There is at least one confirmed change to the Bucs team that took on Sundowns, with captain Innocent Maela unavailable for selection after picking up his fourth yellow card of the season, resulting in a one-match ban.
The switch to cup football could also present coach José Riveiro with the opportunity to rotate his squad, and January arrivals Souaibou Marou and Makhehlene Makhaula could debut for the Club while the likes of Ndumiso Mabena and Craig Martin could be up for their first starts in Pirates colours.
Players to Watch
Despite playing in the Championship, the hosts do boast some top flight experience in their ranks which will be valuable in a game of this magnitude.
Former Highlands Park striker Sabelo Nyembe is expected to be a crucial outlet on attack, and comes into the game in great form having already netted seven times across competitions this year, with four of his goals coming in the preliminary round fixture against TTM.
Also in coach Sinethemba Badela’s squad is Bucs Academy graduate Thabiso Sesane, who will relish the opportunity to showcase his talent on the big stage.
How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs All Stars FC
The game kicks off at 20:00 and will be televised live on SuperSport PSL. You can also follow live updates across Orlando Pirates social media platforms.