There will be fireworks at Loftus Versfeld Stadium when Mamelodi Sundowns battles Orlando Pirates in a not-to-be missed DStv Premiership clash on 17 February at 20:00. Pirates currently has the bragging right as they were victorious in their last clash against Sundowns where they were crowned the 2023/2024 MTN8 champions.


Mamelodi Sundowns

The defending champions who are yet to taste a league defeat recently had their eleven-match winning run halted when they played two back-to-back draws against Cape Town City and Polokwane City respectively.

They will need to regroup and return to their winning ways to be able to stay on the path of making history by winning their seventh consecutive league title, but they have a tough task ahead of them as Orlando Pirates is known not to go down easily.

Masandawana had ten players on the Bafana Bafana squad that came out third in the recently finished Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Their star striker Peter Shalulile also represented Namibia in the tournament. It remains to be seen whether having several players not resting during the break will work in their favour or not.

To add to the already star-studded team, Rulani Mokwena also bolstered his squad by signing Tashreeq Matthews, Zuko Mdunyelwa, Matias Esquival and former Orlando Pirates playmaker Thembinkosi Lorch to help them challenge for top honours. It will be interesting to see if Lorch will be featured in this clash against his former club.


Orlando Pirates

Pirates will be under immense pressure of handing Sundowns their first league defeat in their own backyard and in front of the Yellow Nation. They are currently fifth on the log with 25 points having played 16 matches, just one point above their Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs.

The Soweto Giants closed off the year seemingly not at their sharpest as they suffered two successive defeats, 3-1 defeat against SuperSport United and suffered a 3-2 loss against Stellenbosch FC. They seemed to have been having issues with their wingback positions as a few of their defenders were side-lined due to injuries and they had to drop Deon Hotto to the left back position and Fortune Makaringe on the right. This seemed to be a major factor in the team’s struggles at the back.

Jose Riveiro strengthened his squad by signing Thabiso Lebitso from Chippa United, Thalenthe Mbatha from SuperSport United, and also promoted right back Jabulani Mokone from the reserve team. Talented goal scorer Tshegofatso Mabasa who was on loan at Moroka Swallows was also brought back to boost his striking force. These signings are important in the Buc’s effort to challenge for cups in the second round of the season.

With the recent departure of Thembinkosi Lorch, it remains to be seen as to who Jose Riveiro will entrust with taking over his place in the starting line-up between Vincent Pule, Relebohile Ratomo and Katlego Otladisa.

Head-to-head: Prior to the Buccaneers’ victory against Sundowns in the MTN 8 final, they had suffered four consecutive losses against the Tshwane Giants. This shows that the defending champions have been the better side between the two.

Written by @siphesihlesoni