Cape Town – Undaunted Orlando Pirates may have a poor record against Mamelodi Sundowns, but they are determined to capitalise on home advantage at the Orlando Stadium n Johannesburg in the first leg of their MTN8 semi-final tie today.
Pirates have lost all five of their past five matches across various domestic competitions. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel because there are at least five things that Pirates can do to end this winless streak against Sundowns.
1. Play brave football
Pirates coach José Riveiro should send his team out with the express desire to play brave football. They should look to take the initiative from the start, and that means taking the game to Sundowns. Pirates have skilful individuals who can impose themselves on a game. They should be given licence to express themselves. Sundowns have been thrown of their stride when opponents go toe-to-toe with them.
2. Discipline on defence
Riveiro has been floating between a four-man and three-man rearguard in recent matches. However, each time the players on duty were superb. By this time, it is well known that Sundowns battle when opponents load their defence because by their own admission it prevents them from playing football.
3. Pirates must convert scoring chances
The arrival of Kermit Erasmus and Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo will enhance the team’s ability to create scoring chances, which has not been a major problem this season. The big problem has been converting the scoring chances and Riveiro will have to make a call on who will be up front in the final third.
4. The mood around the team
Pirates captain Innocent Maela has said the players are “switched on” for today’s clash. He has offered his teammates sound advice, saying they must not play the occasion of a cup semi-final.
The spate of Pirates signings will also step up the competitiveness in the ranks and that augurs well for committed performances on the field of play as players try to hold on to positions in the starting XI.
5. The real Thembinkosi Lorch must please stand up
Attacking midfield ace Thembinkosi Lorch returned from a lengthy injury lay-off six weeks ago, but he is nowhere near his best form. He has had limited game time and on occasion, his form has been a mixture of hot and cold. His wing play can be menacing and his feeds from out wide can pose problems for opposition defences.