TFGSoccerClub writer DYLAN APPOLIS takes a look at five Orlando Pirates players who can determine the outcome of the Soweto derby at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
The Free State-born attacker has been a revelation since joining the Buccaneers on a free transfer from Bidvest Wits at the start of the campaign.
The winning goal in October’s 2-1 Soweto derby win over Chiefs cemented Pule’s tag as one of the top signings of the season, as well as going a long way to further endear himself to the Pirates faithful.
Since arriving from Wits, the winger has scored seven goals and provided four assists in 27 games across all competitions, as he has quickly become a vital part of Milutin Sredojevic’s team.
As he did at the FNB Stadium in October, Pule will be hoping to be the difference maker at the same venue on Saturday, and help Pirates close the gap on log-leaders Wits.
The Zambian forward has managed to bag eight goals and a further five assists from 28 appearances in all competitions so far this season, and his pace and energy will undoubtedly offer a major threat to a Chiefs defence breached on a number of occasions this season.
The 21-year-old is still a raw talent, but with the likes of Pule and Augustine Mulenga likely to partner him in the forward areas, Shonga could prove effective against a shaky Chiefs backline.
The forward has also been in fine scoring form for the Zambian national team, scoring twice for Chipolopolo in the last international break, and will be hoping to continue his scoring form against the Amakhosi.
Shonga already has one derby goal and assist to his name, having netted in Pirates 2-1 victory earlier this campaign.
The Orlando Pirates captain is Sredojevic’s lieutenant on the field, and while the Serbian coach has chopped and changed with starting him on numerous occasions this season, Jele has played all but one fixture for the Buccaneers so far across all competitions.
Jele will yet again play an important role in Saturday’s derby, not only by leading his chargers, but also to keep the talented Chiefs frontline quiet, not an easy task when coming up against Khama Billiat, Leonardo Castro and co.
Nyatama’s impact on this Pirates side was clearly evident last season, but became even more evident when the midfielder was sidelined due to injury. Needless to say, coach Micho’s side struggled in his absence.
Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena hailed Nyatama as the best deep-lying playmaker in the country, while pointing out his ability to control and dictate the pace of the game as his biggest quality ahead of the Soweto derby.
Mokwena admitted that they missed the former Bloemfontein Celtic man, and will undoubtedly be hoping that Nyatama will be back to his best to help the Sea Robbers down their arch-rivals.
The man, affectionately know as Ten-Ten, has made an impressive start to life as a Buccaneer after making the switch from Bidvest Wits in January 2018.
After using the back end of last season to settle into the club, Mlambo has ran the show for Pirates from the middle of the park, showcasing his skills and passing ability as he racked up four assists in his twelve games across all competitions this season.
Sredojevic will be hoping the Mlambo will combine well with his midfield partners, as Pirates will look to stamp their possession-based game on the derby this weekend.
The battle between midfielders Mlambo and Siphelele Ntshangase on Saturday will be one of the most talked-about duels on the pitch at the FNB Stadium.
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