Much of Orlando Pirates’ season has been spent just outside the top of the league table. At the end of November, Pirates were 3rd (four points off the top).
At the end of December 5th, five points adrift. End of January 4th (8 points behind). End of February 4th (7 points behind having played two games more than the table-toppers). The pattern is clear – the Pirates’ ship is falling further and further behind the Mamelodi Sundowns ship (for lack of a better word) in the race.
That distance figure you’re struggling to see is the SS Sundowns (is that better phrase?) going further and further into the horizon. The Sky. The Limit. Etc.
That said, the title race (and all other mini races) are far from over. We’ve only just gone past the halfway stage of the season and anything can still happen if teams take their chances.
For Pirates, the window of opportunity to close the gap on Sundowns, in particular, is this week. Two games in five days against teams currently in 11th and 12th could prove to be a pivotal point in their season.
Failure to collect six points in these two games will leave them with a mountain to climb. But six points will put them back in the mix and pile some pressure on Sundowns and other rivals.
1 – Pirates have lost just one of the last 16 games against Chippa United and Bloem Celtic, drawing three, winning the other 12, and failing to score in just two of these games.
More recently, ‘The Buccaneers’ have lost just once in their last eleven games in all competitions (vs Golden Arrows). They have also conceded two goals in six games since then, rediscovering a bit of that defensive solidity that made them so hard to beat under Josef Zinnbauer last year.
The comeback win against Maritzburg in the Nedbank Cup on the weekend was particularly impressive. Yet, it’s the consistency on the league front that is troubling.
1 – Pirates have won successive league games only once this season (in November 2020). One of those games was against Celtic, so maybe that could be the charm. The last time Pirates lost a league game in March was in 2016 under Eric Tinkler.
In fact, that was their only loss in March since March 2014, winning seven and drawing seven since then. As a matter of fact, a win today would mean Zinnbauer’s second league double over an opponent (after Black Leopards last season).
Maritzburg v Leopards
5 – Maritzburg United have lost their last four league games, and defeat against Black Leopards would equal the worst losing run of any team this season (TTM, Leopards, and Maritzburg at the start of the season).
Victory for Leopards would represent just the second time they have completed successive league doubles over an opponent in their PSL history, and the first time since 2001/2-2002/3 (Ajax).
AmaZulu v SuperSport
0 – Kaitano Tembo is winless in seven matches against Benni McCarthy (D3 L4), the longest he has gone without a victory against any PSL coach.
TS Galaxy v Swallows
6 – TS Galaxy’s goal difference of +6 since Owen da Gama is the best of all sides since he took over at the club. Only Arrows and AmaZulu have won more games (P7 W4) than Owen da Gama (P6 W3) in that time.
RELATED STORY: STATS: PSL February Winners and Losers
By Opta Jabu