Both Orlando Pirates and Chippa United will be looking to secure their first victory in the Absa Premiership when the two sides clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Wednesday night, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Milutin Sredojevic’s side played to a 1-1 draw against newly promoted Highlands Park in their 2018-19 PSL opener, which saw goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands commit that now infamous error leading to an own goal.
Despite Justin Shonga levelling matters in the second half via a penalty, it was certainly a case of two points dropped by the Buccaneers.
Will coach Micho and Rhulani Mokwena drop Sandilands after his blunder? Most fans are expecting him to drop down the pecking order after his schoolboy error, with fellow shot-stoppers Jackson Mabokgwane and Siyabonga Mpontshane waiting in the wings.
Dan Malesela’s side began their campaign with a disappointing 2-0 loss against Steve Komphela’s Bloemfontein Celtic outfit. The Chilli Boys will have added motivation to down the Soweto giants, who enjoy a dominant record against them.
Chippa made wholesale changes during the off-season, roping in 15 new players in a bid to build a title-contending team. Coach Malesela left new signings Daine Klate and Thamsanqa Sangweni on the bench in their loss against Celtic. The former Mamelodi Sundowns development coach could call on the duo to face their former club.
The team has a new captain in Mark Mayambela, who also played for the Buccaneers in the past.
But Kurt Lentjies’ presence in the middle of the park will be key, especially given how Pirates usually dominate the midfield battle against their opponents.
Of the previous seven league encounters, the Buccaneers have won six times, scoring sixteen goals and conceding only six.
Micho apologised to the Buccaneers fans after his side’s failure to get the 2018-19 campaign off to a winning start in front of a packed Orlando Stadium.
‘I would say that I have the deepest regret, and I would apologise to our supporters for this situation that was very unfortunate,’ he said after the draw against the Lions of the North.
‘I do not remember, in a long time, when Orlando Stadium was this much [full] with supporters,’ he added.
‘But, having in mind that this is a marathon of 30 matches, it is not good to be on this side to not have won something like we had planned.
‘However, the blessing in disguise is that this is a league where you can still do corrections by way of collecting points when you have dropped some,’ he concluded.
Pirates will be without the services of goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo, Thabo Qalinge and Thembinkosi Lorch due to injury, while new signing and former Chippa midfielder Abel Mabaso serves a suspension after receiving his marching orders in the final game of last season.
The two sides do duty on Wednesday night with kick-off set for 7:30pm.
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