Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs Preview

South African Nedbank Cup | Saturday 5 March | FNB Stadium | 15:00

The 9th edition of the Nedbank Cup takes place this weekend and the round of 32 has some cracking contests, but none come close to the encounter between Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. It is the first time in nine years that they will clash in South Africa's FA Cup, which ensures that one of them will be missing from the second round. Some will say it’s too early in the tournament for a game of this magnitude, but I think it’s the perfect way to kick-start one of South Africa’s most prestigious football competitions. 

To Win (90mins)
Orlando Pirates 16/10
Draw 2/1
Kaizer Chiefs 16/10

Orlando Pirates

Since the Buccaneers were dumped out of the 2015 CAF Confederations Cup, they have struggled to find the form and organisation which lead them to the final. They currently lie seventh on the log in the league with just eight wins from 21 matches. Pirates have come under fire for their lacklustre nature in front of goal this season and some have attributed this to an indifferent formation portrayed by coach Eric Tinkler. 

However, they have impressed in recent weeks, winning four of their last six games, including two victories on the bounce. Last season, Pirates were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup as early as the round of 16, after SuperSport edged them 1-0 and they will be hoping for a much more successful run after what has been a disappointing season for the Sea Robbers. Since Kermit Erasmus was sold to French side Stade Rennes, Tinkler has opted for a 4-5-1 formation, with Lehlohonolo Majoro leading the line. He is quick off the mark, and deadly on the counter-attack. Key to the Bucs’ impressive recent form has been Mpho Makola. 

The 29-year old is creative with the ball at his feet and has all the vision to make those threading through balls and crosses. Adding pace and power to the team is Thabo Rakhale. He plays with flair and has plenty of dazzling skill to beat his man. In the centre of the park, Issa Sarr keeps the ball rolling with his pin-point passing. He gives the back four a sense of security as well as confidence. Sarr is strong on the ball and makes those tough tackles and will be vital for his team against the Glamour Boys.    

Kaizer Chiefs

PSL champions Amakhosi are 10 points behind title rivals Mamelodi Sundowns with nine matches to play at the time of writing. It’s highly unlikely that Chiefs will catch the Brazilians so it’s best they turn their attention to the Nedbank Cup. The Glamour Boys have hustled to find consistent form under the tutelage of manager Steve Khompela, but the Kaizer Chiefs board as well as supporters remain patient as the former Maritzburg United coach looks to win them over. It has taken some time but Khompela has gotten his men to play his style of football: possession based, and attacking from the get-go. 

In the league, Chiefs are unbeaten in their last six matches, which include four victories and they will be hoping they can carry that form into the Nedbank Cup. They were shockingly outdone 2-1 by Black Leopards in the round of 16 last season and need to do much better than that with the below-average season they are having. With the team they have, Chiefs really should be dominating their opponents. Siphiwe Tshabalala is consistently proving his worth to the Kaizer Chiefs faithful. He is a real threat on either flank with his incredible pace and skill. His delicious crosses and through-balls make Bernard Parker and Camaldine Abraw’s job so much easier. Willard Katsande will anchor the midfield. The experienced 30-year old has an incredible work ethic and loves attacking the game just as much as defending. He is big, strong, and powerful, and is indispensable to this Amakhosi team. 

The defensive partnership of Eric Mathoho and Lorenzo Gordinho remain consequential to say the least. They always seem to be on the same page; both are top tacklers of the ball and read the game well to intercept those crucial passes and crosses. The duo will be essential to Chiefs if they are to get the better of their city-rivals.  

Probable line-ups:

Orlando Pirates: 4-5-1 
Mhlongo; Gcaba, Gyimah, Phungwayo, Matlaba; Sarr, Motupa, Makola, Qalinge, Rakhale; Majoro 

Kaizer Chiefs: 4-4-2 
Pieterse; Gaxa, Gordinho, Mathoho, Masilela; Katsande, Maluleka, Tshabalala, Twala; Abraw, Parker

Betting Verdict: Pirates (16/10)  
This will be the fourth meeting between Chiefs and Pirates this season, with the last two encounters ending as a draw. However, Pirates are looking more convincing at present and and are well worth a punt to claim the bragging rights and the all important victory.    

Written by Aaron Crowie