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Football | Absa Premiership

Benni McCarthy © Backpagepix

Bucs on the brink of history



Orlando Pirates are cautious of a mercurial Bloemfontein Celtic side, who stand in their way of a successive treble when they clash in Soweto on Saturday.

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The Buccaneers, who are two points clear at the top of the Premiership standings, could retain their league crown if they win the match, though they need fellow challengers Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns to lose or draw their respective simultaneous encounters.

"We know that the trophy is within our reach, but let's not forget that Celtic is a superb team," Pirates goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs said ahead of the penultimate rounds of league matches.

"What is important is that we will be that we playing at home, in front of our fans, and we have to turn up.

"What's been good with us is that our defence has been good and we have been conceding less goals."

Celtic, seventh on the log, are fighting to remain the in the top half of the table.

Swallows, meanwhile, tackle plucky Platinum Stars in Dobsonville in an effort to close the gap on pace setters Pirates.

It has been a fairytale year for the Birds, the previously dormant Soweto giants, who could lift a historic first crown this season.

"Stars are a good team and will be tough. We know that," said Swallows striker Siyabonga Nomvethe.

"They will make us work hard to get the important three points that we need."

Tshwane rivals Sundowns and SuperSport United, third and fourth respectively, face off in Atteridgeville in a desperate attempt to stay in the championship race.

"Football is a funny game," said Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens, whose side led the standings until last month.

"Supersport are playing great football lately, and we have to be careful because we want to win all of our remaining games.

"This match is also going to be played at an intense pace because both teams stand an outside chance of winning the league."

In Phuthaditjhaba, fifth-positioned Free State Stars can also play themselves to contention, provided the top four drop points, when they meet sixth-placed Kaizer Chiefs in a potentially explosive fixture.

Stars have been unheralded in the campaign but have a realistic outside opportunity.

While both sides have mathematical chances of league honours, however, they could be left slugging it out for a top-four finish.

At the bottom of the table, Jomo Cosmos will be fighting for their Premiership place against Maritzburg United in Daveyton.

Should Cosmos lose and fellow strugglers Santos win their fixture, Jomo Sono's side will automatically return to the First Division.

Santos travel to Durban to face AmaZulu who are fighting for a top-eight finish.

Elsewhere, Ajax Cape Town take on Golden Arrows at Cape Town Stadium.

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