Orlando Pirates will be targeting nothing but a victory when they take on Royal AM in a DStv Premiership match at the Orlando Stadium on Tuesday.
Touted by many as one of the league contenders, the Buccaneers began their 2023/24 season with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Stellenbosch FC in the Winelands over the weekend.
Pirates, who were without key players such as Miguel Timm, Kermit Erasmus and Thembinkosi Lorch, fired blanks on the night as new signing Patrick Maswanganyi failed to carry his pre-season form into the DStv Premiership.
On the other hand, Royal AM were also unable to find the back of the net in their 0-0 draw against their KwaZulu-Natal rivals, AmaZulu FC, at home in their opening league game over the weekend.
Thwihli Thwahla have been unable to reinforce their squad in the current transfer window due to the club’s Fifa transfer ban and the KZN side has lost one of its key players in Tebogo Potsane who has joined Kaizer Chiefs.
This will be the sixth competitive meeting between Pirates and Royal since the latter purchased Bloemfontein Celtic’s Premier Soccer League status in 2021.
The Buccaneers boast of an unbeaten record against Thwihli Thwahla with the two teams having drawn their first two matches during the 2021/22 season.
Bucs then won two successive games including last season’s 2-1 victory in an MTN8 quarterfinal clash played in Durban.
Their most recent meeting ended in a 1-1 draw in Soweto last May as Menzi Masuku cancelled out Elias Pelembe’s opening goal (own-goal) to earn Royal AM a point.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“I did not like the last minutes of the game … it was chaotic,” Pirates head coach Jose Riveiro said after their clash with Stellenbosch.
“We were a bit in a hurry, not doing what we were supposed to do at the moment that Stellenbosch were defending really deep. Apart from the last 15 minutes, I think everything was positive. Obviously, there were mistakes but we don’t care so much about that,” he added.
“We had enough chances to at least get a point [on Saturday night], but it wasn’t our day. We play again on Tuesday and our focus is already there.”
Meanwhile, Riviero’s Royal AM counterpart, John Maduka was happy with a point following his side’s draw against AmaZulu.
“It was a very tight game, it is normal, the first game of the season. You play safe, avoid mistakes and you do not want to open up [at the back],” Maduka said.
“I think defensively we played well, build-up play going into the midfield was okay but from midfield to the final third that’s where is where we lacked. We didn’t create enough chances.
“Like I said, the first game is always tricky, you have to be cautious so that you don’t make mistakes. Otherwise, we are happy with a point.”
PLAYERS WHO HAVE FEATURED FOR BOTH TEAMS
There are quite a few players who have turned out for both Pirates and Royal AM including Bucs legend Happy Jele.
The veteran defender was signed by Thwihli Thwahla in February 2023 which was eight months after he was released by Pirates and featured in the two teams’ 1-1 draw at the Orlando Stadium last May.
Kabelo Mahlasela, Menzi Masuku and Thabo Matlaba are current Royal AM stars who have also donned Pirates’ black and white colours in the last decade.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Monnapule Saleng: The 2022/23 season saw the speedy winger establish himself as one of the best players in the country and Riveiro will once again look to Saleng to inspire the Soweto giants to their first win of the campaign.
Zakhele Lepasa: The Bafana Bafana international is back at Pirates after a successful loan stint at SuperSport United who were keen to retain his services. Lepasa will be keen to prove that he deserves to be the Buccaneers’ first-choice striker.
Menzi Masuku: The experienced attacking midfielder was on the score sheet the last time Royal AM played at the Orlando Stadium and he will be looking to haunt his former employers by playing an instrumental role in helping his side secure a win.
Ruzaigh Gamildien: The 34-year-old centre forward remains an influential player in the Royal AM team having netted five league goals last season and he will be eager to open his scoring account for the current campaign when he faces Bucs
Source: Super Sports