The doubts around Orlando Pirates’ ability to challenge for the title originate in the nature of their results at the end of last season.
Those doubts grow when you consider how turbulent their start to the new season has been – coaching changes, knocked out of the MTN8 as holders (only the second team in PSL history to do so), winless in four matches. Now, as Mandla Ncikazi and co. attempt to steady the sheep, they face the very same side responsible for their Cup exit.
Orlando Pirates v Swallows
Revenge will be the last thing on their minds – it’s the three points that are important and necessary to arrest an unsatisfactory
run of form that goes back to the end of last season.
2 – Pirates have won just two of their last ten games in all competitions, drawing five and losing three. It’s not just Pirates’ form that provides a potential headache for their fans, their home form has also taken a hit.
There was a time when travelling to Orlando Pirates was a daunting fixture, but that has become less of the case in the absence of fans. Even Swallows’ recent Cup win came at Orlando Stadium – something that would have been unheard of earlier this year.
In the ten weeks between February and mid-April, Pirates played eight home games and won all eight, conceding just one open
play goal in the process.
2 – Pirates have won just two of their last eight HOME games in all competitions, drawing four and losing the other two.
Be that as it may, when you look beyond the scoreboard, their last three home matches have been an exhibition in misfortune. They outclassed TTM at home in the final game of last season, only to draw 0-0. They created enough in the Cup game against Swallows, but early errors cost them dearly, while
a red card against Stellenboach meant playing an entire half with 10 men. Fortune may be favoring them this time with Swallows rumoured to have up to seven players out. The Birds could be happy to
escape with a point if they are understaffed. Will we see yet another draw?
255 – Pirates have drawn more matches in PSL history than any other top-flight side (255). The rest of Pirates’ September fixtures already look daunting, and the Swallows game could be upgraded from a need-to-win to must-win for The Buccaneers. Playing Gavin Hunt’s Chippa away and then Sundowns at home are not the kind of fixtures you want when trying to recover from an unimpressive start to a season.
But this is the type of pressure that comes with the territory when you’re at a club as big as Pirates.
2 – Only twice in PSL history (2008 and 2014) have Pirates failed to win all of their opening three league matches.
A win, any type of win, this weekend would help ease at least the immediate worries in the Bucs camp.
TS Galaxy v Golden Arrows
The last time these two sides met, TS Galaxy were outclassed, resulting in Arrows’ biggest win in the last four seasons.
-3 – The Rockets’ 3-0 defeat remains their joint-biggest margin of defeat since they became a PSL club (also 3-0 v SuperSport United).
Baroka v Maritzburg Utd
Maritzburg only secured safety on the last day of the previous campaign, and are already making hard work of the new one. They are bottom of the table and desperately need the points.
3 – Baroka have won more matches against Maritzburg in the last three seasons than they have against any other team currently in the top-flight (W3 D2 L1).
Sekhukhune v Stellenbosch
Four points from two games is Stellenbosch’s best start to a top-flight season. Compared to Maritzburg, the players have shown a different response to near-relegation. Yet, it should also be
seen in perspective.
1 – Stellies have won just one of their last 14 league games, losing four and drawing the other nine.
By Opta Jabu