By their standards, Orlando Pirates and Cape Town City have been serial underachievers this season.
Usually, Pirates, who entertain City in an Absa Premiership clash at Loftus Versfeld this afternoon, are title contenders but, as things stand, they are not mentioned among those vying for the championship this season.
‘The Buccaneers’ are headed for yet another empty-handed season. Not that their opponents have any prospect of lifting a trophy. Like Pirates, City have been punching below their weight.
Out of four trophies available in domestic football, both teams were not convincing in their efforts to claim any. Pirates could manage the second round of the Nedbank Cup and the quarterfinals of the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout while City ended in the last 16 of the Telkom Knockout and the second round of the Nedbank Cup and the quarterfinals of the MTN8.
In the league, Pirates are placed fifth with 43 points following 11 wins, 10 draws and five losses while City, who are on position eight with 33 points, managed eight wins, nine draws and nine losses. There are common factors that could be attributed to below-par performances by Pirates and City.
The changing of coaches has somewhat affected the rhythm of both sides. Pirates have gone through three coaches – Micho Sredejovic, Rhulani Mokwena, and Josef Zinnbauer while City have had two – Benni McCarthy and Riekerink this season. The changes in coaching personnel often disrupts the flow and form of a team.
Some players, loyal to the former coach, might not pull their weight either showing disapproval at the departure of a coach. Some coaches may actually drop other players and that demoralizes the team. There are signs that players from City and Pirates have been affected by the departure of coaches.
However, a new coach can also inspire players to perform. Under McCarthy, Kermit Erasmus was not as lethal as he is now.
Inconsistent performances have robbed Pirates and City to make a great impact. The two sides have failed to sustain a winning streak. At times in instances where they were expected to continue winning, Pirates and City would often disappoint.
Recently City hammed Sundowns 3-2 impressively and in the next match they lost 1-0 to Stellenbosch FC. Such has been their inconsistencies. Pirates have battled to make the grade since the return of the Absa Premiership. They are yet to win a single match with three draws.
This afternoon, a fierce battle can be expected as both sides are keen to make an impression. Pirates, though they have remote chances of making the CAF Champions League spot will want to go all out in an attempt to book a place in the next edition of the continental showpiece.
City will want to solidify their position in the top eight. It’s not yet guaranteed as a lot can happen during these final days of the league.
The last time the two sides met in the league, theirs was an enthralling thriller as they played out to a 3-3 draw. Since both sides play open and attacking game, goals are likely to flow.
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By Hosea Ramphekwa