Orlando Pirates vs Mpumalanga Black Aces | Friday 18 September | Orlando Stadium | 19:30
With the auspicious MTN8 final on the go, the only PSL game of the weekend comes at us on Friday evening, as Orlando Pirates play catch-up for games missed. They host Mpumalanga Black Aces in Soweto, with the Nelspruit based side having not ventured away from home since the season’s start at the beginning of August.
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To Win (90mins)
Orlando Pirates 7/10
Mpumalanga Black Aces 4/1
Pirates’ ambitions in continental action took a massive blow, going down 4-1 to Egyptian giants Zamalek last weekend. The game was purely an academic one in terms of qualification, but would’ve still hurt the Buccaneers. They return home and back to the reality of the PSL for a couple of weeks. Their league efforts have been disjointed once again and the lack of momentum for the home side in this fixture is their biggest weakness. Teams have picked off points from the perceived giants of South African football with apparent ease so far. With just the one win coming at home against Chippa United, they’ve yet to show any certainty from a punter’s perspective. Playing at home against a side like Black Aces, you’d expect them to pick up three points. But at the moment the only certainty with the Sea Robbers is their lack of consistency in league football.
Mpumalanga Black Aces
Aces come into this tie having one of the best starts to a PSL campaign of any of the tier 2 sides for a while. Two wins and a draw, with a 1-0 victory over Sundowns being the standout result, there’s a lot for them to be upbeat about. Whilst none of their results have come from edge-of-your-seat performances, they’ve been effective, and come the business end of the season, efficacy trumps entertaining. Typically they would set up defensively for this one, knowing that the fewer they let in against a side like Pirates, the better. But for a change they may see this as a chance at grabbing points that pre-season they probably wouldn’t have counted on. By no means am I writing their opponents off, but if Black Aces can score first, killing the game off could be easier than you’d think. Pirates did put four past the last side that visited the Orlando Stadium, but Aces will try to repeat their showing here two seasons back, where a late Thulasizwe Mbuyane winner saw them leave with three points.
VERDICT: Draw 23/10
The Friday night lights don’t seem to hold the same prestige in PSL football as it does in the movies. With only one other local game this weekend, more eyes than normal will be glued to this fixture, but I don’t fancy any action to make the ninety minutes a memorable affair. I’ve opted for the draw and at 23/10, it could help build a nice kitty going into the big one on Saturday afternoon. Pirates will be content to pick up points again and Aces will be hell bent on keeping up their unbeaten record.