Bucs bring class to Maritzburg

2009-04-08 00:00

BIG teams have come to Pietermaritzburg before, but none quite with the pedigree of Orlando Pirates, who play Maritzburg United at Woodburn Stadium tonight in the most eagerly-awaited Premier Soccer League game in Pietermaritzburg this season.

Kaizer Chiefs might be the biggest team in the country in terms of support and they have won the most trophies, while Mamelodi Sundowns are the richest, but Pirates are regarded as the founding club of South African football as it is known today.

And this current Pirates team, coached by Dutch playing great Ruud Krol, would appear to have the potential to be among the Buccaneers finest.

After a slow start under Krol, Bucs, the only SA club to win the African Champions Cup (now the Champions League), are chasing their first PSL title since the Benedict Vilakazi, Gift Leremi, Lesley Manyathela generation of 2003.

The Buccaneers’ 1-1 draw against Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday means they are five points behind SuperSport and will not want to slip up again if they are to remain serious challengers.

This has added spice to tonight’s meeting against Maritzburg who, in turn, have won five league and cup games, and three successive league matches to move away from the relegation zone.

Twelfth-placed United now have their sights set on reaching the prestigious top eight, and an upset victory tonight, apart from most likely being a deciding factor in the title race, would increase the Pietermaritzburg team’s chances of finishing in the top half.

“We’re going into this game at the perfect time for us,” United coach Gordon Igesund stressed last night.

“We’ve won five in a row and the players are very confident. We’re playing at night, which is good for us because the supporters will be there to support the team. We are also going into the game under less pressure because we have moved away from the relegation zone, and we’ve got nothing to lose.

“We know we’ve got our work cut out for us — we’re playing possibly the best team in the country along with Supersport. But we want to try to win because we’ve got an outside chance at the top eight, even though that will depend on the results of the teams above us.

He added: “The players have been really focused in training for this match. They’ve worked really hard to get away from relegation and now the talk is about the top eight, which is very positive.

Everyone’s committed and everyone wants to play.”

Under Krol, Pirates have played some of the season’s best football. Their movement up-front, in particular, can take the breath away. On their night playmaker Teko Modise, mobile, technically correct striker Katlego Mashego and right-wing Dikgang Mabalane can dismantle any defence, as they showed in their 2-0 Nedbank Cup defeat of SuperSport a month ago.

United, though, have tightened up a defence that has conceded 45 goals this season, which has been the crucial factor in the team’s improved form.

Expect the home team to harass Pirates tonight at every turn on the Woodburn pitch’s narrow confines.

Then United will attempt to utilise skilful forwards Fanyana Dhladhla, Tony Tsabedze, Collen Zimba and Sipho Mngomezulu to get behind a Bucs defence marshaled by player of the season candidate Lucas Thwala.

Bucs have a few injury concerns. Siphelele Mthembu, the young striker schooled at kwaPata Secondary in Edendale, while a youth player at Maritzburg City, will undergo a late fitness test for a hamstring injury while left-back Innocent Mdledle remains out of action.

Maritzburg have a full squad available except for suspended striker Brice Aka.

Today: Lamontville Golden Arrows v AmaZulu (Chatsworth Stadium, 3 pm), Free State Stars v Thanda Royal Zulu (Goble Park, 3 pm), Platinum Stars v Mamelodi Sundowns (Olen Park, 7.30 pm), SuperSport United v Moroka Swallows (ABSA Tuks Stadium, 7.30 pm — SuperSport 5), Maritzburg United v Orlando Pirates (Woodburn Stadium, 7.30 pm — SuperSport 4), Santos v Ajax Cape Town (Newlands, 7.30 pm), Bay United v Kaizer Chiefs (EPRU Stadium, 7.30 pm — SuperSport Blitz), Wits University v Bloemfontein Celtic (Bidvest Stadium, 8 pm).

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.