Orlando Pirates in pole position as race for Premiership second spot heats up

Orlando Pirates in pole position as race for Premiership second spot heats up
Evidence Makgopa of Orlando Pirates with the ball during the DStv Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium on 18 March, 2023 in Johannesburg. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

As it stands, Orlando Pirates are in the forefront as they jostle with SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs to see who will claim the coveted second spot in the Mamelodi Sundowns-dominated DStv Premiership.

The business end of the domestic DStv Premiership is on the horizon. Serial South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns are done with the most important business of the campaign – recently winning the league for a sixth successive season.  

That may be over, but there remains much to fight for as far as the other 15 teams in the Premiership are concerned. This includes the three teams that currently trail Sundowns by a significant 20 points.

Orlando Pirates, SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs are all on 40 points, with six games still to be played in the 2022/2023 campaign. The trio is engaged in a nail-biting tussle to see which of them will claim the title of “best loser” after another dominant display from Masandawana this season.

The team that grabs second spot will participate in next season’s Caf Champions League campaign. Hence, each of the three contenders is desperate to claim silver – even after being emphatically beaten to gold.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mamelodi Sundowns reinforce domestic dynasty with sixth Premiership title on the trot

Pirates in pole position

Former African champions Pirates are currently in pole position for the prized runner-up spot, after beating top-flight rookies Richards Bay 2-0 to leapfrog SuperSport a week ago.

The Sea Robbers’ Spanish coach José Luis Riveiro said his team will fight to the bitter end for the consolatory accolade.

“The team is alive, the team is fresh, is ready, is hungry. Maybe we are not yet there in the end, but what you can be sure about is that we are going to fight,” Riveiro told journalists ahead of the Buccaneers’ clash with Chippa United.

It may be too late in the campaign for this fighting spirit – with the Sea Robbers’ 11-year league-title drought set to continue. But better late than never, as the saying goes.

SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt during the DStv Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium on 18 March, 2023. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

SuperSport in action

SuperSport – who went into last weekend’s fixtures leading the race for second, ceded their advantageous spot to fall to third (on goal difference) after being held to a stalemate by Chippa United.

Gavin Hunt’s men are in action against a tenacious TS Galaxy – who have ambitions of finishing in the top half of the table and qualifying for next season’s MTN8 competition. The clash takes place on Friday 7 April, and will set the tone for the Easter weekend action.

Currently, Pirates’ goal difference sits at +11, while SuperSport’s is +9. Fourth-placed Amakhosi lag behind with a goal-difference of +2.

Of course, if the Naturena-based Chiefs side somehow manages to keep on winning while their competitors drop precious points, they will be in business too. In spite of their inferior goal difference.

They face Marumo Gallants – who find themselves propping up the Premiership table, and in serious risk of being relegated to the Motsepe Foundation Championship. Kick-off is at 8pm on Saturday 8 April.

“We want to continue winning. It is our aim every time we step onto the field. From an individual perspective, I want to score goals that help the team win,” said Amakhosi attacker Ashley du Preez.

Kamohelo Mahlatsi of Kaizer Chiefs in action with Zebulon Mtshweni of Casric Stars during the Nedbank Cup last 16 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Casric Stars at FNB Stadium on 12 March, 2023 in Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images)

Most penalties this season

Kaizer Chiefs have been the recipients of the most penalties in the league this season, receiving 10. The most recent spot-kick that the team won left the coach of their opponents in a volcanic mood.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SuperSport United out to delay Mamelodi Sundowns’ coronation as Premiership champions

“Kaizer Chiefs must have practice sessions [against less players]. They get 10 players more than any other club because it seems like that is all they play against. Ten men at training and penalties, that is all,” said incensed Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker, after his side’s 2-0 defeat to Chiefs last time out.  

According to Du Preez, what the referees do or don’t do is not in their hands.

“The players don’t control the referee and linesmen. They make the decisions. We are just there to do our best,” said the former Stellenbosch forward. DM

DStv Premiership fixtures:

Friday, 7 April:

SuperSport United vs TS Galaxy (7.30pm)

Saturday, 8 April:

Richards Bay vs Golden Arrows (3pm)

Sekhukhune United vs Maritzburg United (5.30pm)

Chippa United vs Orlando Pirates (5.30pm)

Kaizer Chiefs vs Marumo Gallants (8pm)

Sunday, 9 April:

Royal AM vs Stellenbosch (3pm)

Swallows vs Mamelodi Sundowns (3pm)

Cape Town City vs AmaZulu (5.30pm)



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