Preview: Sekhukhune United

Orlando Pirates’ DStv Premiership campaign resumes with a trip to Polokwane, where they will face Sekhukhune United at Peter Mokaba Stadium this Saturday.

Following the conclusion of the first official FIFA break of the new year, domestic football returns on the weekend with only a third of the season’s league fixtures remaining.

Form Guide 

Saturday’s fixture arrives with the two sides coming off contrasting results in cup football, where Sekhukhune were eliminated from the Nedbank Cup Round of 16 after losing 2-0 at home to AmaZulu.

The defeat was their first across competitions since December, ending a run of eight matches unbeaten.

In league football, Babina Noko have four wins in as many recent matches and have tallied up 13 points in their last five fixtures. They now sit in sixth place in the standings with an opportunity to go as high as second place should they stretch their winning run to five games.

Standing in the way of their best-ever run of results in the top flight is a Buccaneers side still unbeaten in 2024 after taking to the field six times. 

Pirates secured their spot in the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals with an emphatic 4-0 win over Hungry Lions at Orlando Stadium, completing back-to-back wins after also triumphing in their league clash against Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs.

Despite some inconsistency in the league, the Buccaneers have worked their way up to second place in the standings by notching up eight points in their last five fixtures.

Victory on Saturday brings them up to double figures under the wins column, strengthening their chance of securing a CAF Champions League spot for the second season running.

Team News 

Pirates have received several boosts in the lead-up to the fixture, welcoming defensive pair Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki back to camp, along with midfield duo Thabang Monare and Patrick Maswanganyi. The four players were part of the squad called up to represent South Africa in the inaugural FIFA Series held in Algeria over the past week.

Coach Jose Riveiro will also be able to call upon Thabiso Lebitso, who has served his one-match suspension and is again eligible for selection. 

Meanwhile, striker Evidence Makgopa is among those nearing a return to the match-day squad after a spell on the sidelines, while midfielder Makhehlene Makhaula has resumed training after his early withdrawal from the game against Hungry Lions.

The hosts also have internationals of their own back in camp, with Sydney Mobbie and Elias Mokwana rejoining their teammates after travelling with Bafana.

Key Players 

Monnapule Saleng (Orlando Pirates): The attacker appears to be approaching his best after turning in performances reminiscent of the form that saw him bag last season’s PSL Players’ Player of the Season award. Following a spell on the sidelines, Saleng has fought his way back into the starting lineup, scoring three goals in his last two appearances and will again be key for the Buccaneers.

Elias Mokwana (Sekhukhune United): The 24-year-old has been instrumental for the Limpopo-based outfit in just his second season for the Club. Fresh off a confidence-boosting stint with the national team, Mokwana will be keen to stamp his authority as Babina Noko look to clinch a crucial home victory.

Head-to-Head 

Pirates met Sekhukhune four times across three different competitions in 2023, winning each time, but will tread carefully as they return to the scene of their only loss in what is still a relatively new rivalry. The defeat came during the 2022/23 season when the hosts emerged 2-0 winners after playing the bulk of the second half with a one-man advantage.

That has so far been a mere blight in the Buccaneers’ record against Babina Noko, as they currently boast five wins in seven encounters across competitions.

Five of the seven encounters between the two sides have come in the league, where the Soweto Giants boast three victories, including one secured away from home.

How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs Sekhukhune United 

The game kicks off at 17:45 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport PSL. You can stay in touch with the action as it happens by following live updates posted across Orlando Pirates’ social media platforms, including the Club’s official mobile app.

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