JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates are far from running like a well oiled machine this season but that they are undefeated in the DStv Premiership could very well set them up for a gleeful finish come the end of the term.
Two wins, three draws is Pirates’ league record this season. Their blemish has been the draws but they’ve come to the party when needed, cruising into the MTN8 finals with a clean sheet in three matches. This follows a 1-0 win over Cape Town City in the quarter-finals and 5-0 aggregate victory over Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals.
On the back of a win and draw in the league, there would be no better way for the Buccaneers to head into the MTN8 final next Saturday against Bloemfontein Celtic reinvigorated, right? And that’s why they’ll need to win in their “curtain-raiser” at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch today (3.30pm kick-off).
Coach Josef Zinnbauer’s troops travel to the Winelands to face Cape Town City, who are hell-bent on avenging their MTN8 defeat. The Citizens have blown hot and cold this term, winning two matches, drawing two and losing two in coach Jan Olde Riekerink’s first full season.
League champions Mamelodi Sundowns had a bye in the CAF Champions League preliminary round, and bowed out of the MTN8 competition, so their sole focus has been their title defence.
The 10-time league champions have won four matches and drawn one. Their impressive start has been inspired by striking trio Themba Zwane, Peter Shalulile and Kermit Erasmus who’ve scored 10 goals between them thus far.
But the three wise men – Rhulani Mokwena, Manqoba Mngqithi and Steve Komphela – will have their job cut out for them tonight (8.15pm kick-off) when they travel to Harry Gwala Stadium to face winless Maritzburg United.
Coach Eric Tinkler was one of the first casualties this season after the Team of Choice lost their first six matches. Enter Ernst Middendorp, who returned for a fourth spell at the club. Maritzburg lost 2-1 to SuperSport United, with the German watching from the stands.
While the Team of Choice are battling to replicate last season’s impressive outing, returnees Swallows FC are enjoying a promising start in the top-flight. The Birds are unbeaten this season after three wins and two draws under the supervision of Brandon Truter.
They showed the football fraternity that they are here to compete after defeating league runners-up Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in the Soweto derby in their last match.
Today they visit Golden Arrows at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium (3.30pm kickoff). Arrows are seventh on the log and unbeaten under new coach Mandla Ncikazi, who’s managed one win and four draws.