Absa Premiership

Can Chiefs, Pirates rise from the ashes this week?

Giovanni Solinas (Gallo Images)
Giovanni Solinas (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The new season has so far not been kind to Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

The two still find themselves in the bottom half of the Absa Premiership standings after four matches, with the top four places hogged by sides that were struggling this time last season.

Even more embarrassing for Chiefs is that they are one of four teams, including Maritzburg United, Chippa United and Highlands Park, that are yet to win a league match in the current campaign.

Pirates are no better as they have accumulated only four points in as many matches.

Sluggish starts are nothing new to Amakhosi and the Buccaneers. Chiefs have failed to win their opening league matches in the past three seasons, while Pirates have been unable to maintain their winning start in the past two campaigns.

Another testing week lies ahead for the two behemoths.

Amakhosi, who first have to face SuperSport United in the first leg of their MTN8 semi-final in Atteridgeville on Sunday, will host Bloemfontein Celtic at FNB Stadium on Wednesday at 19:30.

The Bucs travel to Limpopo for a date with Black Leopards at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night, a fixture the Premiership newcomers had wished to host at Thoho-yandou Stadium. The Premier Soccer League approved Leopards' request to use the Venda venue on Friday, but it was too late for Pirates and the broadcasters to agree to a change.

Leopards will return to their fortress against Celtic on September 16, the club's general manager Tshifhiwa Thidiela confirmed.

Meanwhile, Chiefs' midweek game will mark the first time Celtic coach Steve Komphela comes up against his former club, four months after he was forced to resign. The two sides failed to break one another last season, yielding a goalless and a 1-1 draw in their two league meetings.

Komphela's successor, Giovanni Solinas, admitted that "four league games and no win for a big club like Chiefs is not good".

The Italian mentor hopes his side will improve in the final third.

Chiefs have only found the net three times in their league outings, a stark contrast to their MTN8 run, where they beat Free State Stars 3-0 in the quarter-finals.

"We have been working a lot on finishing," Solinas said on the sidelines of their top eight pre-match conference this week.

"If we continue to create more chances, we will score."

Retired striker Pollen "Trompies" Ndlanya is worried that his former club is underperforming.

“The Chiefs graph shows inconsistencies, but, in all fairness, let’s give them a chance until after the first round because, for a change, they have also recruited quality players,” said Ndlanya, who enjoyed a trophy-laden spell at Amakhosi in the late '90s.

On the flip side, Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic is still reeling from back-to-back 1-0 defeats at the hands of Celtic and Bidvest Wits.

A lot was expected from the former league champions after they finished runners-up last season.

Ndlanya, who also turned out for Pirates in 2000 after his return from overseas, said the Buccaneers' struggle was their own doing.

"They are confusing themselves with the many players they brought in, when they had laid a good base last season," he noted.

Against Leopards, Bucs will play a side that has made a solid start in their return to the elite league.

Lidoda Duvha held Chippa United and Highlands Park to 2-2 draws in their past two league outings, having already chalked up a win over Polokwane City at the beginning of the campaign.

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England 92/4 (28 ov)
Pakistan 326
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England 92/4 (28 ov)
Pakistan 326
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