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Orlando Pirates vs Bidvest Wits Preview

Happy Jele and Brighton Mhlongo

Orlando Stadium will be jam packed on Sunday afternoon as high-flying Orlando Pirates host Gavin Hunt’s Bidvest Wits in a mouth-watering Nedbank Cup Last 32 clash. Josef Zinnbauer’s troops are yet to suffer a defeat under his tutelage while the visitors seek redemption after a poor record in recent weeks. Who will reign supreme?

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Nedbank Cup
Sunday 9 February
Orlando Stadium

To Win (90 mins)
Orlando Pirates 13/10
Draw 22/10
Bidvest Wits 2/1

Orlando Pirates

The mighty Buccaneers head into this clash oozing with confidence after recording five successive victories in the league. They were dealt a major blow last weekend when their talisman, Gabadinho Mhango, who is currently the league’s top scorer received his fourth yellow card, meaning he sits out this game.

Zinnbauer has to look to Tshegofatso Mabaso, Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga to find the back of the net in Mhango’s absence.

Pirates have released club vice-captain Musa Nyatama from his contract after he asked to leave due to stiff competition he is facing from Fortune Makaringe and Ben Motshwari. The Buccaneers also made a surprise signing of Nkanyiso Zungu from Stellenbosch and it remains to be seen how he will fit into the set up.

Thembinkosi Lorch and Vincent Pule are slowly regaining their form and they have been providing goals and assists in recent games. I expected them to operate in wide positions with Luvuyo Memela pulling the strings in the number 10 position. Happy Jele’s return from suspension has brought stability in defence where Pirates are often found wanting.

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Bidvest Wits

The Clever Boys must have rejoiced when they got knocked out of the CAF Confederations Cup as it was taking its toll on their thin squad. Gavin Hunt’s men have five league games in hand and they have a lot of catching up to do. I think they would welcome a Nedbank Cup exit as well but they wouldn’t want to suffer a fourth defeat in a row.

Gift Motupa will have a point to prove against his former team where he wasn’t a regular starter. His rise at Wits has seen him become a vital cog in the team and he has scooped the December Player of the Month award due to his impressive form.

Wits should realize that Pirates can’t defend set-pieces and that’s where they can really hurt them using Deon Hotto’s finesse when it come to crosses and set-pieces, which will see the Students utilize Thulani Hlatshwayo’s aerial strength. I expect newly-signed Lorenzo Gordinho to sit on the bench as the Wits defence has always been solid, unless Hlatshwayo shifts to the right-back position.

Prediction: Orlando Pirates (13/10)
The Buccaneers are hungry for silverware and this is their only realistic chance of winning a trophy this year as the league title race is virtually over with Kaizer Chiefs holding a healthy nine-point lead with a game in hand. They will miss Mhango but they have enough firepower in their arsenal. Back the hosts to triumph in regulation time.

Written by Benedict Ngwenya