Orlando Pirates face SuperSport on a ground that has haunting memories of their 6-1 mauling

19 February 2019 - 16:19 By Marc Strydom
Orlando Pirates head coach Milutin Sredojevic (R) reacts on the bench alongside his assistants Rulani Mokwena (L) and Fadlu Davids (C) during an Absa Premiership match.
Orlando Pirates head coach Milutin Sredojevic (R) reacts on the bench alongside his assistants Rulani Mokwena (L) and Fadlu Davids (C) during an Absa Premiership match.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates face SuperSport United on Wednesday night on a ground that has haunting memories for the Buccaneers‚ in a week where the Soweto giants will seek to stop their dream slipping away of ending their Absa Premiership barren spell.

The Buccaneers return to Mbombela Stadium‚ where in their abysmal 2016-17 season they took a 6-1 hammering from SuperSport.

Everything coach Milutin Sredojevic has done at Bucs in the subsequent two campaigns has been geared towards erasing the memories of the campaign where Pirates ended 11th in the league‚ and bringing back a trophy for the first time since 2014.

As positive as the signs have been finishing runners-up last season‚ and being in third place‚ in the hunt for the title‚ this campaign‚ a trophy has remained elusive.

Bucs’ stuttering run – unbeaten in 15 league matches‚ but having drawn five of their last seven‚ and having also won just once in seven games all competitions – might have raised nerves that predictions of this being the year of the Buccaneer might be dissipating.

Fears that Pirates might once again be close‚ but just not get that cigar yet in 2018-19.

No matchup has exposed Pirates this season quite so much as their last one‚ a 2-0 group stage defeat in Tunisia against Caf Champions League defending champions Esperance de Tunis where the scoreline was kept that low by Bucs goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.

Sredojevic felt it was a naively-conceded goal from a free-kick in the 16th minute – Anice Badri allowed to run unmarked onto Youcef Belaili’s pass and finish – that left Pirates chasing the game.

“We entered very strong in the match and did very well until one moment of losing concentration cost us so much in that set piece‚” Bucs’ coach said.

“A moment where you fall down with the result‚ like we fell in that first half. You are forced to put yourself into an attacking mode‚ introducing strikers and looking to equalise.

“And during that period of looking to equalise we conceded that second goal that put the game beyond our control.”

Pirates can be pleased that they travel to Nelspruit having perhaps put to bed a period of domination they had suffered at the hands of SuperSport with a 3-1 league win in the first round at Orlando Stadium on September 9.

That result ended a nine-match winless streak against Matsatsantsa that included two Nedbank Cup final defeats (3-2 and 4-1)‚ the 6-1 hammering in 2016-17 and even a penalties MTN8 defeat this season‚ a month before the league meeting.

Pirates will want three points again on Wednesday night‚ and then to hopefully repeat that against tough AmaZulu in Orlando on Saturday night.

For it is weeks like these‚ and teams’ response to them‚ that can decide winners from also-rans.

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