JOHANNESBURG – Can Orlando Stadium be a fortress for the mighty Buccaneers?
Tonight will be an acid test for coach Micho Sredojevic and his men to answer this very question when they face a Cape Town City side fresh from being walloped 4-1 by their Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend.
For all the talk from Sredojevic that Pirates played with authority and stamped their “document” - alias for playing style - with a memorable three goals to end their hoodoo over SuperSport United on Saturday night, their home form is still a bit wobbly.
Perhaps the 3-1 win against Matsatsantsa at Orlando was a bit flattering, but what it did, on top of giving them three Absa Premiership points, is put a spring in the step of the players and technical team.
The Buccaneers were stunned by Highlands Park in their league opener last month, having to come from behind to draw the match after they were put on the back foot by goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands’ own goal from a routine back pass.
And then they faced Bidvest Wits there some two weeks later, a venue where they had thrashed the same side 4-0 in a match played behind closed doors last season as punishment for crowd violence.
The Clever Boys bagged the full haul of points to cement their place at the top of the table, leaving Sredojevic battling to explain the poor start after Pirates had finished runners-up in the previous campaign and full of promise for the one that would follow.
Add to that their 4-2 penalty shootout elimination by SuperSport in the MTN8 in the same month and that paints a picture of quite an awful home record.
But things changed at the weekend when the Buccaneers not only ended their hoodoo against SuperSport, registering only their third win against the Tshwane outfit in 11 outings, but also getting the goals as the cherry on top.
This doesn’t immediately answer their scoring conundrum, nor does it say that Orlando Stadium has suddenly become a stronghold, but visitors City will be slightly shaken.
Benni McCarthy’s men dropped to 12th place on the PSL table, saw their goal difference take a massive knock, and will be without key defender Taariq Fielies following his red card against Chiefs.
With a Pirates front line that always looks like it could terrorise defenders at any given time, City will be wary of having to reshuffle their rearguard.
Maybe therein lies Bucs’ opportunity to make the Citizens pay. Augustine Mulenga, Justin Shonga and Vincent Pule all have the potential to be match winners, and in some instances this season have proved to be exactly that.
There’s no better test than against the MTN8.