The Buccaneers will get a shot at revenge when they travel to take on SuperSport United at the Mbombela Stadium. The Sea Robbers were humiliated the last time these sides met, with Matsatsantsa claiming a resounding 6-1 victory over the Bucs. That defeat will always be remembered in Pirates’ history, with former coach Muhsin Ertugral packing his bags and resigning out of embarrassment or disgust – only he knows.
That said, all credit must be given to Stuart Baxter’s side who were a class above. But could Pirates get their revenge in the Telkom Knockout Cup? Or will SuperSport cause more misery to the Bucs faithful?
Telkom Knockout | Saturday 26 November | Mbombela Stadium | 18:00
To Win (90 mins)
SuperSport United 29/20 | Draw 43/20 | Orlando Pirates 33/20
SuperSport United come into the semi-final clash of the Telkom Knockout Cup in superb form. Matsatsantsa are undefeated in 10 matches in all competitions, at the time of writing. Although they’re undefeated, SuperSport haven’t won a match in 90 minutes since they last humiliated Orlando Pirates in the league.
Stuart Baxter’s side needed 120 minutes to get past Ajax Cape Town in the Last 16 of the Telkom Knockout, with Thuso Phala grabbing the game’s only goal. The quarter-finals came and we saw SuperSport kick holders, Sundowns, off their perch, winning 3-1 on penalties.
In SuperSport’s favour, Baxter’s men will have the honour of home advantage in their semi-final clash against Pirates. The Tshwane-based outfit are undefeated in their five home games played so far in all competitions, scoring 11 goals and conceding just two.
Matsatsantsa have in their ranks, not only one of the best coaches in South African football, but a plethora of exciting talent on the pitch. In goal, Ronwen Williams wears the gloves, and is amongst the best keepers in the PSL.
In the middle of the park, SuperSport have arguably the best centre-mid pairing, which includes Dean Furman and Reneilwe Letsholonyane. Mlungu and Yeye have formed a formidable partnership, proving to be rock-solid in defence, and just as threatening in attack. Orlando Pirates have already seen the danger that these two pose when they’re on the field.
Star-striker, Jeremy Brockie, is another player who will be a threat to the Bucs’ defence. The New Zealand international already has four goals in the Premiership and will look to break his duck in the tournament. With players like Phala, Bradley Grobler and Kingston Nkhatha all around him, SuperSport look a menacing force.
Orlando Pirates have made a fresh start under interim boss, Augusto Palacios. The Sea Robbers pulled off their second consecutive victory against Free State Stars last Saturday, after earlier beating Highlands Park 2-1 in the quarter-final of the Telkom Knockout in what was Palacios' first game in charge.
The Peruvian-born manager will need to turn things around quickly and give Pirates a much-needed victory over SuperSport. He will have to do that knowing that the Buccaneers have lost on their last four travels to face Matsatsantsa in Tshwane.
But the Sea Robbers have looked a different side since Muhsin Ertugral’s departure, with Zimbabwean international, Tendai Ndoro, showing signs of being the best striker in the Premiership. In the two games that Palacios has managed, Ndoro struck the net on both occasions to take his tally to nine goals in 11 matches in all competitions played.
Palacios will also have a decision to make regarding the goalkeeping department. Brighton Mhlongo and Jackson Mabokgwane will both be eyeing a starting berth against SuperSport. Mhlongo has been brilliant for both club and country this season, while Mabokgwane recorded a clean sheet on his debut against Free State Stars last time out.
Further up the park, Mpho Makola will be looking to tantalize the Matsatsantsa defence with his quick feet and agility on the ball. Not to mention the wicked shot that Makola has in his locker.
Pirates have a number of players that can hurt SuperSport, but its Ndoro and Makola who will need to be at their best to get a result against Baxter’s side. The club need the win; the supporters need the win; but could they do it at the Mbombela Stadium?
Verdict: SuperSport United (29/20)
I have to go with my gut feeling and back Matsatsantsa here. Baxter’s men have looked brilliant this campaign and showed their class the last time these sides met. There’s just too much quality in the SuperSport ranks which includes Furman, Yeye, Phala and Brockie. With home advantage, Matsatsantsa are tipped to come out on top.
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets