Stars look to claim scalp of Pirates

Stars look to claim scalp of Pirates
Nyiko Mobbie of Free State Stars and Victor Letsoalo of Bloemfontein Celtic during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 game between Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars at Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on 10 December 2017 © Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Dec 14, 2017. 10:16

Free State Stars will chase the scalp of Orlando Pirates when the teams meet in the Absa Premiership at Goble Park Stadium on 16 December 2017, kick-off at 18h00.

Stars claimed a second win from their last three league matches when they defeated SuperSport United 1-0 at home on December 13. The Free State side played a significant portion of the match with 10 men following a red card for Patrick Phungwayo, but Siphelele Mthembu’s goal took them to three valuable points.

Ea Lla Koto have claimed 12 points from a possible 21 at home so far this season, though they are unbeaten in their last five matches as hosts. The last team to beat Stars at home was Mamelodi Sundowns back in early to mid September.

Pirates played to a second successive draw - and their eighth in the space of 14 league matches - when they were held 1-1 at home by AmaZulu on December 9. The Soweto side’s defender Ntsikelelo scored at both ends of the field in the match, first gifting the visitors the lead with an own goal, before levelling the scoring with his first strike of the 2017/18 season.

The Buccaneers have struggled for consistency away from home this term, picking up just seven points from six matches on the road. However, their last away match resulted in a 1-0 victory at Bloemfontein Celtic late last month.

In head-to-head stats, Stars and Pirates have met in 55 league matches since 1986. The Buccaneers have claimed 25 wins compared to eight for Ea Lla Koto, while 22 matches have been drawn. The Free State side has won six of their 27 home league matches against the Soweto club, suffering nine defeats in the process.

Last season Pirates won their home match 1-0 in the first half of the campaign, while the return game in the Free State was won 3-2 by Stars. That five-goal thriller went against the recent trend of low-scoring games between the teams, as their previous five meetings had produced just six goals.

Stars’ line-up from their 1-0 win over SuperSport on December 13: Sangare, Mobbie, Teyise, Keita, Phungwayo, Hlubi (Potsane 51’), Makhaula (Abubakar 63’), Vilakazi, Jantjie, Dlamini (Mashego 71’), Mthembu.

Pirates’ line-up from their 1-1 draw with AmaZulu on December 9: Mabokgwane, Nyauza, Shitolo, Chabalala, Matlaba, Nyatama, Makola, Memela (Mthiyane 88’), Kutumela (Rakhale 72’), Nkosi (Gabuza 59’), Shonga.

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