Orlando Pirates take on Mamelodi Sundowns on Thursday at Loftus Stadium, with a place in the Nedbank Cup semifinals at stake. Jonty Mark takes a look at five Pirates players likely to have an impact on proceedings.
The Bafana Bafana captain was rested for the Caf Confederation Cup game against Al Ahly Bhengazi on Sunday so should be fresh and raring to go against Sundowns’ much-vaunted attack on Thursday. His experience could prove vital in repelling the likes of Namibian marksman Peter Shalulile, and he can also, on his day, be useful from set pieces at the other end of the field.
Motshwari has been almost ever-present for Pirates this season, driving them forward from central midfield, and providing excellent cover in front of his back four. In what is likely to be a hotly-contested midfield battle on Thursday, the former Wits man will have to be at his fearsome best if Pirates are to bring home the spoils.
Deon Hotto is having an outstanding first season at the Buccaneers, with seven goals and nine assists in all competitions making the 30 year-old a key man in Josef Zinnbauer’s attack. The Namibian forward has already had a major impact in this season’s Nedbank Cup, with an assist and a goal in the 3-1 win at Maritzburg United in the last 16.
The 24 year-old Buccaneers striker has had a season disrupted by injury, but is a vital scoring weapon for Pirates, and has proved that of late with strikes in Caf Confederation Cup matches against Enyimba and Al Ahly Bhengazi. It remains to be seen if Josef Zinnbauer decides to use Mabasa’s talents off the bench or from the start against Sundown, but either way he is likely to play a role.
Like Hotto, Pule is a potential game-breaker for Pirates against Sundowns, with his mazy dribbles and eye for goal a constant menace on his day. Like Hlatshwayo, Pule was rested by Josef Zinnbauer for Sunday’s Caf game, only coming off the bench for Kabelo Dlamini in the 70th minute, meaning he should be fresh for the meeting with Sundowns.