Friday Feb 03, 2023. 11:00
Orlando Pirates’ new-found form will be put to the test when they face runaway leaders Mamelodi Sundowns in the pick of DStv Premiership matches this weekend.
The Buccaneers and the Brazilians will meet at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday afternoon, just over a month since their late-December clash at Loftus Stadium which brought the Premiership back to life after the 2022 World Cup break.
On that day, ‘Downs recorded a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Mothobi Mvala and Cassius Mailula, but the score line did not truly reflect their dominance of the match.
That result was win number seven of Sundowns’ current record run of 14 straight league victories, and the Tshwane side will be confident of extending that hot streak.
Yet Pirates are in a far better place coming into this weekend than they were in late December, having racked up three straight wins over Golden Arrows, Stellenbosch FC and Marumo Gallants – and scoring nine goals in the process.
The Buccaneers have certainly taken a step forward under coach Jose Riveiro and should be far more capable of challenging Sundowns compared to the teams’ last meeting.
“The team looks very solid, the midfield cannot be solid without the help of the back four, they cannot be solid if the forwards are not coming and helping. This is a collective on the part of the team,” said Riveiro.
“We have, at this moment, many players in very good form and in a very good moment. This is very good for the team because the competition during the week is tough, and if you want to be on the field, you really have to deserve it.”
The round opens on Friday evening with Swallows FC hosting Richards Bay, before Maritzburg United and AmaZulu meet at Harry Gwala Stadium for a KwaZulu-Natal derby.
Saturday, aside from the Pirates-Sundowns game, sees a Durban derby between Golden Arrows and Royal AM; Chippa United hoping striker Etiosa Ighodaro can score for a fourth game running when they host Stellenbosch FC; SuperSport United at home to Cape Town City; and Marumo Gallants will look to end an eight-game winless streak when they host Sekhukhune United.
Sunday’s lone game pits TS Galaxy against Kaizer Chiefs – a meeting of two teams who will hope they have turned a corner with last weekend’s results. The Rockets thumped Arrows 4-0 to break a five-game drought, while the Amakhosi took down Royal 2-0 to snap a three-match losing streak.
“To be honest, we will always want to put ourselves under pressure; we will always want to compete at the highest level. We will always want to be amongst the best,” Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane said.
“We will try to push hard, to push all the way and treat games as they come – one game at a time. But every game we play, we play to win.”
DStv Premiership weekend fixtures
All Times CAT
Friday 3 February
18:00: Swallows FC v Richards Bay
19:30: Maritzburg United v AmaZulu
Saturday 4 February
15:30: Orlando Pirates v Mamelodi Sundowns
15:30: Golden Arrows v Royal AM
15:30: Chippa United v Stellenbosch FC
17:30: SuperSport United v Cape Town City
20:00: Marumo Gallants v Sekhukhune United
Sunday 5 February
15:30: TS Galaxy v Kaizer Chiefs