Orlando Pirates are looking good ahead of the new season as they look to go one better and capture the title. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – The 2019-2020 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season kicks off this weekend, but already Orlando Pirates have demonstrated that they will be serious challengers for the league title.

Pirates comfortably dispatched of Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-0 in the pre-season Carling Black Label Cup last weekend and are now focused on their opening PSL match when they host Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

Having finished runners-up the last two seasons, the Buccaneers are determined to go one better. With coach Micho Sredojevic’s mandate very clear, the squad has been considerably strengthened ahead of what will be an intriguing campaign indeed.

While Pirates are looking good, defending PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns will again be the team to chase, while Bidvest Wits, Chiefs, SuperSport United and Cape Town City will be in the mix too.

In last weekend’s pre-season friendly, Pirates gave some of their new signings a run in the Soweto Derby against Chiefs. It was an opportunity for players like Bongani Sam, Gabadinho Mhango and Fortune Makaringe to get an understanding of what it feels like to be a Pirates player.

“Wow, what an occasion,” Sam told Pirates’ official website. “It’s difficult to explain what emotions I was going through, but I do know that I was nervous, almost afraid. 

"Getting onto the pitch and having my first touch calmed me down a little bit, but the nerves didn’t leave me until I left the field because I’ve always wanted to play in the Derby.”

Makaringe, signed from Maritzburg this season, was just as thrilled. A great deal is expected from the midfielder now that he is in Pirates colours, and he was just glad to get the first game out of the way – now he can focus on the rest of the campaign.

“It was a top feeling, I enjoyed myself in the game,” said Makaringe. 

“Having grown up supporting Pirates, the biggest feeling for me was that of joy because when I got onto the field for the first time in this important game, I did it representing all the other young boys from the township who grow up supporting this team and watching this game. It’s the realisation of a dream to play in a game that we are always watching.”

Malawian Mhango, who was brought in from Wits, said: “For me, it was a great feeling, a great moment. Playing for Pirates is massive because it’s the biggest team in the country and being part of the Soweto Derby is a dream come true. Every player watches this game and wants to play in it.” 

African News Agency