DURBAN – Lamontville Golden Arrows have previously had a “helping hand” in two of Orlando Pirates' title triumphs and the big question is that will they do it again?
The question will be answered tonight at Loftus Versfeld where Abafana Bes’thende will lock horns with Mamelodi Sundowns in an Absa Premiership showdown at 7.30pm tonight.
The last triumph for Pirates in the league came back in 2011/12 when they clinched a second successive treble.
In the last game of the league, Pirates traveled to Moses Mabhida where they needed nothing less than maximum points because Moroka Swallows were ready to pounce in Pietermaritzburg.
The Buccaneers swept past Arrows 4-2 to clinch the title and Swallows finished as runners-up after beating Maritzburg United 1-0 at Harry Gwala Stadium.
In 2010/11, everyone thought the league was on it way to Cape Town. Ajax Cape Town needed a victory against Maritzburg United to be crowned champions but played out to a 2-2 stalemate. On other hands Pirates came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 and won the title at the expense of Abafana Bes’thende. Pirates and Ajax were tied on 60 points but the Buccaneers won the league because of a superior goal difference.
Pirates are three points behind Sundowns at the summit of the log. They are on 49 points after 27 matches while Sundowns are on 52 points after 26 league outings.
They need “another helping hand” from Arrows. Arrows coach Clinton Larsen doesn’t care where the league goes but is confident they can upset the former African champions.
“The 10 day break helped us. It gave us a good recovery time and afforded us an opportunity to work on other elements of our game. Last season were in a same situation. Nobody gave us a chance but we went to Pretoria and won 1-0 against Sundowns (in the Nedbank Cup). If we did it last season what can stop us from doing it again this time around? It is not going to be easy though. We need a lot of things to go our way. We need luck and to be at our best. We also need to take our chance and defend accordingly,” Larsen explained.
Larsen embarrassed Sundowns in 2014/15 when he demolished them 5-0 to hand Kaizer Chiefs the league title, but for the Wentworth-born coach it doesn’t matter who wins the league.
“We don’t care who wins the league. We are employed by Arrows. All we care about is three points.Our focus is on fighting for three points and finishing in the Top 8. We want to get to 34 points and go in to Top 8.
“Where the leagues go, we don’t care. If we lose obviously we will hand the upper hand to Sundowns and if we win the league will be open. At moment Sundowns are in pole position and everything is in their control. All they need to do is to win their matches,” Larsen frankly stated.
Arrows are 12th on the log on 31 points. If they beat Sundowns they will move to position eight on the log.
Abafana Bes’thende utility player Musa Bilankulu dismissed the unfounded suggestion that his side has a soft spot for Pirates.
“We don’t have a soft spot for Pirates. It is just a coincident that we always play them in the last game of the season. Obviously if we beat Sundowns it will be like we are doing a Pirates the favour but that is not the case we will be doing ourselves a favour because we want to get in to the Top 8 position."
"We are not looking at what is happening at Pirates. Our focused is here at Arrows about waht we want to achieve,“ Bilankulu elaborated.