The Buccaneers return to their PSL responsibilities as they push to play continental football next season
Orlando Pirates will be looking to pick themselves up from disappointing domestic results when they host Maritzburg United for a Premier Soccer League meeting at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.
It would be the Buccaneers’ first league match since losing 1-0 to Kaizer Chiefs on March 21 and Sunday’s match comes three days after a 4-1 Nedbank Cup quarter-final defeat by Mamelodi Sundowns.
Currently placed fifth on the standings, Pirates need to win by a four-goal margin to jump to third spot, the cut-off point for next season’s Caf inter-club competitions.
They come up against a Maritzburg side sitting 13th on the table, three points above the relegation zone, who have gained confidence in their bid to steer clear of demotion after starting the season as the league’s whipping boys.
|Game||Orlando Pirates vs Maritzburg United|
|Date||Sunday, April 18|
|Time||18:30 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
|DStv.com/DStv Now App||SuperSport TV’s PSL channel 202|
Squads & Team News
Pirates will have to do duty without vice-captain Thulani Hlatshwayo who is suspended for this match after receiving a fourth yellow card against Mamelodi Sundowns last Thursday.
Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer might not worry himself much about Hlatshwayo’s absence as captain Happy Jele and Ntsikelelo Nyauza can play as twin centre-backs.
Also missing for the Buccaneers is striker Frank Mhango, who also picked up his fourth yellow card against Sundowns.
That presents Zinnbauer with another headache as Tshegofatso Mabasa is the only available number nine in the absence of Zakhele Lepasa and Jean-Marc Makusu.
It is not yet known if Thembinkosi Lorch and Innocent Maela have recovered from injuries.
Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp will be hoping to have all his best players available against a wounded Pirates side. No player from the Team of Choice is suspended for Sunday’s game.
This is the third meeting between Pirates and Maritzburg this season.
The Buccaneers edged the Team of Choice 1-0 in the reverse league fixture away at Harry Gwala Stadium in January with Deon Hotto’s first-half strike separating the two teams.
Pirates then eliminated Maritzburg from the Nedbank Cup 3-1 in the Round of 16 in February at Harry Gwala Stadium again, as Hotto was back to strike while Kabelo Dlamini and Vincent Pule also helped the Soweto giants to come from behind and claim victory.
Maritzburg have historically struggled against Pirates, who have won 15 of the two teams’ 29 PSL meetings.
Eight matches have ended in draws while the Team of Choice have recorded victory on six occasions.
But Middendorp and his men could now be fancying upsetting Pirates as they arrive at Orlando Stadium high in confidence, having not tasted defeat in their last five league games, a run of three wins and two draws.
That includes a 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs and their last league match was a 5-1 thumping of Chippa United which led to Dan Malesela losing his job.
Pirates on the other hand go into this match on the backdrop of losing to Chiefs in the Soweto derby which was their last league outing.
The embarrassment by Sundowns could also push the Buccaneers to inflict some pain into Maritzburg.