Stellenbosch acid test for Orlando Pirates, AmaZulu get set for KZN derby

Orlando Pirates head coach Jose RIveiro

Coach Jose Riveiro said Orlando Pirates must put the loss to SuperSport United behind them and build on the positives of their last few games. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Dec 28, 2023


Orlando Pirates are looking to return to winning ways when they host Stellenbosch FC in a DStv Premiership match at Orlando Stadium on Friday night (8pm kick-off).

After a three-match winning streak, Pirates suffered a disappointing 1-3 loss to SuperSport United at the Peter Mokaba Stadium a few days ago.

Despite enjoying an early lead, thanks to Fortune Makaringe’s goal, Jose Riveiro’s Buccaneers side allowed SuperSport back in the game and they ran out eventual 3-1 winners last Saturday.

Riveiro said the players must put that reverse behind them and build on the positives of their last few games.

“The first round is done, and we have played 15 games. Now we start with the second round against Stellenbosch at home, and we will try to look to the positives,” said Riveiro.

“There are many positives in this team. There are many new players in the squad, young players who are making an impact in the league.”

High-flying Stellenbosch are unbeaten in 10 games, of which they have won nine. They have already beaten Pirates twice this season.

This match will be Stellenbosch’s first since they were crowned Carling Knockout Cup champions, and the Cape Winelands squad are on a high. They will want to close out 2023 with a victory in their final game of the year.

Stellenbosch are in fifth place on the log with 23 points from 14 league fixtures.

Coach Steve Barker said the objective is to produce a squad that can compete with the best, and the Pirates clash will provide the team with a stern test.

“You know we are building a squad that is competing at the top end of the table and for trophies,” said Barker. “We have had two semi-finals, a final and a win.

“I do see this football club continue to become bigger in South African football, and we’re doing the business the right way.

“We continue to recruit well. I don’t think [there is] any reason why, in a few years, we won’t be able to try and challenge a little bit.”

Meanwhile, AmaZulu will host Royal AM in the KZN derby at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban tomorrow (5.45pm).

This season, AmaZulu have been inconsistent, and after completing their first-round fixtures, they are in 10th position. Almost half of their games ended in stalemates.

In their last match, they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Cape Town Spurs. Usuthu dominated from start to finish, but couldn’t grind out a win.

AmaZulu coach Pablo Franco Martin is targeting three points from their final Premiership fixture of the year.

“We need to reach at least 20 points by the end of the year,” he said. “In the second half of the season, we’re going to be better in terms of football, preparation and development of the players.”

Royal AM have been battling this season and are in 13th place in the 16-team league. Any more reverses, and they will find themselves in the relegation zone.

IOL Sport