Arrows out to end Pirates’ dominance
Lamontville Golden Arrows will be out to end their losing streak against Orlando Pirates when the two sides meet in the opening fixture of the 2012/13 Absa Premiership season at the Orlando Stadium on Friday night, kick-off at 20h00.
Abafana Bes’thende have lost the last five league matches against the Buccaneers and have failed to claim maximum points in the last seven matches.
The last meeting between the two sides ended 4-2 in favour of the Soweto giants and saw them clinching their second straight league title in style at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in May this year.
However, Arrows new signing Stanton Lewis believes they have a chance to turn the tables on the defending champions although he is still expecting a tough encounter.
"Pirates is the team on form now, they are the defending champions and probably the best playing team in the league,” said Lewis.
"Hopefully we'll go out there and have a great night like we've been doing through pre-season and you never know what can happen, the ball is round.
“We'll give them the respect they deserve, especially playing in their stadium where they've been doing well in recent years.
"But, we are prepared for the game, mentally, physically and tactically and I think the fans will see 90 minutes of good football.
"We want to start the season on a winning note and we're definitely going there to fight for three points.”
Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates striker Benni McCarthy, who netted a brace in the last match against Arrows, says they cannot afford to underestimate their opponents, who have made significant changes to the squad they used last season.
“Look, this will be a totally different ball game,” McCarthy explained.
“Sure, we beat Arrows 4-2 the last time we played them, however, this does not mean that it will be a walk-over on Friday.
“We need to prepare very well for them, and make sure that on the night we make use of our goal scoring opportunities.”
Pirates struggled to find the back of the net in their MTN8 quarterfinal against Bloemfontein Celtic last week and it eventually took a successful penalty conversion from Andile Jali to hand them a 1-0 win, but McCarthy believes they will be sharper this time around.
“I believe on Friday night we will be better prepared and we will do our best to score. This will be a good game,” said McCarthy.
“On Friday, we start our long journey which is the league campaign, and we'll try to get the ball rolling in the best way possible.”
Thabo Matlaba, who missed the game against Celtic is expected to be fit for Friday’s clash alongside midfielder Oupa Manyisa, who has recovered from an elbow injury.
Arrows, on the other hand, are sweating over the fitness of striker Thamsanqa Gabuza, while winger Dillon Sheppard will be suspended due to yellow cards accumulated at the end of last season.