Pirates are winless in 12 league matches. Included in that dismal dozen was a 2-1 defeat to Maritzburg, a result overseen by current caretaker coach Fadlu Davids when he was interim coach late last year. Davids, in charge again after the recent exit of Roger de Sa, will remind his team of that victory, although he expects it to be a different challenge this time.
Pirates are still sailing rough seas, but under Kjell Jonevret they have a clearer direction in which they are headed. That means this should be a much more competitive affair than the one Maritzburg edged with goals from defenders Brian Onyango and Bevan Fransman when Bucs were led by caretaker coach Augusto Palacios.
“Since they got a new coach Orlando Pirates have been much more organised defensively. Though they have not won much, you can see elements of their structure coming through. Definitely, this will be a different team to when we faced them (last time),” said Davids after he wrapped up preparations in the Midlands on Monday.
Under Swede Jonevret, Pirates have picked up three draws and a loss in the league, and two cup wins. Their last assignment was a 4-1 thumping of Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup at the weekend, which was a significant improvement on the 3-2 loss they suffered against the same outfit in the league in their previous outing.
That’s why Davids says his players need to be switched on throughout the clash.
“We have got to be 100% on top of our game tactically because we expect them to be organised, tight and difficult to break down. We need our players to concentrate for the full 90 minutes.”
The Team of Choice make one forced change to the side that beat Ajax Cape Town in their last match as Kwanda Mngonyama is suspended. It means Pogiso Sanoka or Blessing Moyo could fill that slot on the right side of defence.
With Thembinkosi Lorch and Mpho Makola finding their range for Bucs at the weekend, this should be a more confident home team, at least in terms of their attack.
Pirates are 12th with 23 points, but only three points behind eighth-placed Maritzburg, with eight league matches left to salvage their campaign.
Having won their first game back under Davids’ charge, Maritzburg will look for a first away win in six league outings.
Coincidentally, their last away win was under his guidance against Baroka in early December. Another plus is the return from injury of Belgian striker Andrea Fileccia, who scored in his first start of the year in the 2-1 win at Ajax.
Meanwhile, Golden Arrows will seek a fourth win in a row in all competitions when they visit Wits. Arrows are on a high after they reached the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals with a win over Sundowns at the weekend.