Pirates look to stay ahead of chasing pack

2011-03-04 13:09

While it will be an emotional return to Seisa Ramabodu Stadium for Orlando Pirates’s Mark Mayambela, the midfielder is only focused on the crucial Premiership win over Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday afternoon (kickoff: 3.30pm).

Mayambela spent three seasons at Celtic before joining the Buccaneers ship at the start of the season, and is gearing up to face his former team-mates for the first time since moving.

“For me, it will be emotional because I made a name for myself at them (Celtic).” said Mayambela.

“At the end of the day, I have to put my personal emotions to the side, and work towards my team’s ambition on the day of getting the three points to help us in the league.”

Pirates carry a three-point lead at the top of the Premiership table with 49 points after 23 rounds of league matches, and will want to remain above the chasing pack by upsetting Phunya Sele Sele in their own backyard.

“It’s good to know that we have the ability of creating scoring chances which will be vital against Celtic. But talking from experience, it’s not easy for big teams to win in Bloemfontein because their players will be self-motivated alongside their supporters that will fill the ground.”

Pirates though, will be without another former Celtic player in winger Tlou Segolela who, bizarrely, will be serving his second suspension in as many weeks.

Segolela served his two-match ban for a red card against Mamelodi Sundowns last month, and made an influential return against United.

He had been carrying two yellow cards heading to the fixture, and received a third one against the Team of Choice that meant that he misses the trip to the Free State province.

Pirates welcomes their starlet duo of defender Happy Jele and striker Thulasizwe Mbuyane back from suspension.

In another afternoon game, second-placed Ajax Cape Town will be at home to bottom-placed Mpumalanga Black Aces at Athlone Stadium. Kickoff is 3.30pm.

With three points separating the Urban Warriors and Pirates, Ajax will have to bounce back strong from a below par display in their 2-0 loss to Bidvest Wits midweek.

Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane sees Kaizer Chiefs, who occupy the third spot on the log, host Free State Stars in a bid to end their recent slump on Saturday night. Kickoff is 8.15pm.

Amakhosi with 45 points in the campaign, have been sluggish in their last three games against Santos, Pirates and Vasco da Gama that have finished in draws.

“I don’t care who you are, nothing is easy when you play away, but what has been important for us in those three games was that we did not lose,” said Chiefs midfielder, Josta Dladla.

They line up against Stars who beat them 1-0 earlier in the year.

“The results will come if we play for each other against Stars, I respect them, and they have a very good coach in Steve Khompela and will come at us as much as we’ll go after them,” Dladla said.

Fourth-placed Mamelodi Sundowns (44 points) gave themselves an outside chance for the title with a win over Aces on Wednesday.

While the mathematical chance stands, their captain Esrom Nyandoro said that the team was not thinking too ahead of their match against a mercurial Golden Arrows outfit at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon (kickoff: 3.30pm).

“I don’t feel that I should be drawn to talking about our chances. Pirates, Ajax and Chiefs should have a chance, and obviously, we are only aiming at getting the results in all of our games,” said Nyandoro.

“We are focused on Arrows at the moment and on getting a win there. They have good players in Siyabonga Nkosi and Collins Mbesuma and like to be on the ball,” said Nyandoro.

In other Saturday fixtures, AmaZulu host Bidvest Wits at the Ulundi Stadium at 3.30pm. SuperSport United will travel to Platinum Stars at the Royal Bafokeng also at 3.30pm.

Moroka Swallows will be at home to Santos at the Dobsonville Stadium, kickoff is 6pm.

Maritzburg United will host Vasco da Gama at Harry Gwala Stadium at 8.15pm.

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