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Orlando Pirates vs Mamelodi Sundowns Preview

Orlando Pirates vs Mamelodi Sundowns Preview  Title-chasing Orlando Pirates find themselves in a make or break situation as they host top-placed Mamelodi Sundowns in a decisive clash. The difference between these two teams is three points and if the Buccaneers fail to amass maximum points, they should start kissing their title hopes goodbye. Who will reign supreme at ‘Esigodini Sikamaminzela’? Let’s take a look. 

Absa Premiership 
Orlando Pirates vs Mamelodi Sundowns

Monday 1 April 
Orlando Stadium 

To Win 
Orlando Pirates 16/10
Draw 22/10
Mamelodi Sundowns 16/10

Orlando Pirates 

Ezikamagebhula have a shambolic recent record against Sundowns at Orlando Stadium as they last beat them on that venue in 2011. Sundowns won this fixture 3-1 last season with Pirates returning the favour at Loftus Versfeld. When these sides met earlier this season, the spoils were shared as the match ended goalless.

Speaking of the recent 0-0 stalemate, it was marred by off-the-field incidents such as former Sundowns midfielder Bongani Zungu praising Rhulani Mokwena, who is now at Pirates, on Twitter and hailing him as the main influence behind Sundowns’ success. There was also an issue with the Pirates bus being allegedly denied entry into the stadium with Sundowns saying Pirates wanted to park where they were not supposed to. A Sundowns fan also invaded the pitch and tried to attack Mokwena which prompted the Pirates bench to repel him and subsequently sparked a reaction from Downs coach Pitso Mosimane.

I hope there will be less mind games this time so that we can enjoy the actual football. Pirates have been knocked out of the CAF Champions League after losing 2-1 to Horoya in a decisive clash. That stretched their winless run across all competitions to three games. The Buccaneers are third on the log and a win would see them go level on points with their opponents who currently occupy top place.

Innocent Maela, Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga were on the winning end when representing their countries in AFCON qualifiers this past weekend and if they can replicate that winning formula at their football club, their opponents will have a long day at the office.

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Mamelodi Sundowns

The most notable absentee from the Sundowns team will be Gaston Sirino who got sent off in their 2-1 victory over Maritzburg United. The last time out, Sundowns lost 1-0 to Wydad Casablanca, however, the result meant little to them as they had already qualified for the CAF Champions League quarter-finals. It shall be interesting to see how they cope with the workload as they face Al Ahly four days after this clash.

Themba Zwane and Denis Onyango were in the thick of the action as their respective countries participated in AFCON qualifiers this past weekend with captain Hlompho Kekana also getting a run as a second half substitute for Bafana Bafana. That must have kept them fit for the upcoming clash.

In terms of their league form, Sundowns have won two, drawn two and lost one of their last five games and they need to get wins on a more consistent basis if they want to open up a gap on the chasing pack but I think they’d be the happier of the two sides with a draw.
Pirates need to be wary of the Brazilians’ dangerman, Lebohang Maboe, who has been scoring goals for fun ever since he’s been moved from midfield and deployed in the false-nine position. He will be looking to combine with Emiliano Tade and Zwane to cause all sorts of problems for the Pirates defence.

Probable line-ups:
Orlando Pirates: 3-5-2
Sandilands; Jele, Ndengane, Maela; Mbekile, Motshwari Nyatama, Mlambo, Lorch; Memela, Shonga.

Sundowns: 4-2-2-2
Onyango; Morena, Coetzee, Lebusa, Lakay; Kekana, Mabunda; Zwane, Laffor; Tade, Maboe.

Prediction: Draw (22/10)
Both sides will be cagey to avoid dropping points at this critical juncture and I foresee them cancelling each other out. Pirates’ lack of killer instinct despite creating numerous chances and Sirino’s absence from Sundowns will also be contributing factors I wouldn’t be surprised to see another goalless stalemate between these sides.

Written by Benedict Ngwenya

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