Orlando Pirates will look to hit the ground running in the conquest to end their trophy drought when they face Highlands Park in their 2018-19 PSL opening encounter, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Following an excellent debut season under the watchful eye of Milutin Sredojevic and Rulani Mokwena, the Sea Robbers will look to build on the momentum which saw them narrowly finish as runners up to Mamelodi Sundowns in the 2017-18 campaign.
They, will, however find the going tough against The Lions of the North who dismantled their opponents in the National First Division on their way to securing promotion to the PSL – a year after initially going under.
Pirates were the more active of the two teams in the transfer market, having unveiled nine new players, which include Brilliant Khuzwayo, Vincent Pule, Ben Motshwari, Meshack Maphangule, Asavela Mbekile, Linda Mntambo, Paseka Mako and Kudakwashe Mahachi respectively.
Sredojevic’s side embarked on a pre-season tour to Zambia in a bid to aclimatise to conditions that his side will face for their CAF Champions League journey in the new season.
Although the trip to Southern Africa was done primarily to ready the team for their African exploits, Micho made it known in no unmcertain terms that his team are ready to vie for honours in the new campaign.
‘We feel like fish out of the during the pre-season. The Absa Premiership competition is our water and we’re ready to swim,’ he told the media at a press conference.
Da Gama’s side also dipped into the transfer market, acuiring twelve new players for the new season, which include veteran defender Bevan Fransman from Maritzburg United.
Despite acknowledging the threat that Pirates possess, Da Gama revealed that an opening PSL encounter against a team of Pirates’ magntiude isn’t such a terrible thing, citing his team’s need to raise their game.
‘Orlando Pirates were a fantastic team last season,’ he said in a press conference.
‘They ended second in the league, and you know at one stage with a bit of luck they would have won the league you know. So they are a fantastic team, and when you come into the PSL you want to play against the best.
‘And I will tell you why, because they raise your game. They allow you to go to another level. It’s the best possible start that we could have,’ he concluded.
Pirates will be without the services of Khuzwayo, Thabo Qalinge and Thembinkosi Lorch due to injury, while new signing Mabaso serves a suspension after being red carded in the final match of the season for Chippa United. The same story applies to Highlands midfielder Mothobi Mvala.
The two sides clash at the Orlando Stadium on 4 August with kickoff set for 8:15pm.
Photo: Orlando Pirates’ official twitter account
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