Ben Motshwari thinks Orlando Pirates are more than capable of beating Mamelodi Sundowns. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Being one of only four Orlando Pirates team members 
 players and technical team  to have won the Premiership title in the past three seasons has made Ben Motshwari wise enough not to deem their top-of-the-table clash against Mamelodi Sundowns tomorrow as a “league decider”.

Motshwari, Vincent Pule and Xola Mlambo all won the PSL title with Bidvest Wits during the 2016/17 season, while Asavela Mbekile was one of the victors with Sundowns last season.

Now, just a few kilometres from Milpark, Motshwari finds himself in a familiar position, with his current employers being one of the contenders for the league championship  third on the log with 40 points, three behind pacesetters Sundowns, who they’ll welcome to Orlando Stadium tomorrow night.

But with six more matches to go after that encounter and with three more teams  Wits, Cape Town City and SuperSport United - still in the hunt for the PSL honours, Motshwari refuses to count his chickens before they hatch.

“From number one to number four, there’s a three-point difference and any team can still win it,” Motshwari said.

“It’s not the same to when I won it the first time because then there were only two teams (Sundowns and Wits) that could win it. But now there are four teams that can win it. For us, we just have to collect points as much as we can, starting from Monday.”

And doing just that is the only way that can propel the beleaguered team to their first silverware in four seasons.

It’s been a bitter-sweet stint for Motshwari with the Sea robbers  enjoying sufficient game-time for such a big brand, but at the end of the day having nothing to show for it despite playing in four competitions, three domestically and one continentally.

Motshwari was eager to win continental silverware in his first attempt with Pirates but had to endure disappointment as they bowed out of the Caf Champions League group stage, following a third-place finish in their group.

On the other hand, Sundowns progressed to the quarter-finals of the continental competition, hence this encounter being rescheduled for tomorrow instead of the original date of April 27.

So, considering the Buccaneers will focus solely on the league, while the Brazilians will have to juggle between domestic and continental duties, do Motshwari and company have an advantage? The 28-year-old footballer thinks not.

“Sundowns have been in the Champions League for a while, and they mastered it. For us, coming (from the loss in) Conakry was a learning curve,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say (playing in Africa) is helping them because they also concede goals early. But when they come here, they also score early goals and that helps them a lot.

“But we’ll focus on ourselves, write a new chapter and let Sundowns do their own.”

Pirates v Sundowns encounters haven’t been short of controversy.

There are three incidents that are probably at the top of the discerning supporters’ minds: Wayne Sandilands’ howler at Orlando from a halfway line shot from Hlompo Kekana; the recent incident where Pirates’ team bus was refused entry to Loftus Versfeld; and later followed by a Sundowns’ supporter who jeered former assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena, who’s now assisting Micho Sredojevic at Pirates.

@MihlaliBaleka


Sunday Independent

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