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Football | Absa Premiership

Bucs out to add to Maritzburg woes



Orlando Pirates will look to return to winning ways when they visit Maritzburg United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday for an Absa Premiership match, kick-off at 8pm.

After winning four games on the trot, the Buccaneers have failed to pick up maximum points in their last two league outings.

The defending champions were held to a 0-0 draw by newcomers Chippa United away from home, before playing to a 1-1 draw against rivals and current leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

However, midfielder Sifiso Myeni says they have put their recent results behind them as they look forward to their next challenge against a United side that has also had a decent first half of the season.

“We have forgotten about the draw against Chiefs,” said Myeni. “It is back to business for us as we prepare for the match against Maritzburg.

“They are a tough side and I think we will need to be at our best to defeat them.”

Pirates are currently in second place on the log standings with 28 points from 14 matches, three points behind the leaders, and Myeni says they can’t afford to allow that gap to widen.

“We are desperate to win this match so that we can continue closing the gap at the top,” he said.

“The second round will be a sprint for all 16 teams in the Premier Soccer League, so we cannot afford to let these three points pass us.”

Maritzburg United, on the other hand, are looking to bounce back following two successive 1-0 defeats against Platinum Stars and Ajax Cape Town.

The Team of Choice is placed fourth on the Absa Premiership log with 23 points from 14 matches.

However, coach Ernst Middendorp is aware that they would have been in an even better position had they not made crucial mistakes in their last two league outings.

“Our biggest problem in the last two games has been keeping the ball up front, for two, three seconds,” he said.

“We have to work on it, we have a small squad and we have had to rely on a player like Cuthbert Malajila a lot.”

The German coach is confident that they will work on their mistakes and finish the year on a good note, starting with their next game against Pirates.

“We have to work to get our sharpness going forward in the transition,” he said.

“In the past we had one or two chances before halftime and we took these chances quite successfully.

“We will look at three or four points out of the next two games, then the break.”

Benni McCarthy scored and then got sent off in this fixture last season, and also scored the winner in the return leg, will be keen to leave his mark on this game after returning from injury.

For Maritzburg United, leading striker Cuthbert Malajila will look to get his name on the score sheet after failing to find the back of the net in the last two games.

The Team of Choice will be missing the services of defender Mohamed Awal, who is serving suspension following his sending off during the game against Platinum Stars.

Last season United won this fixture 2-1, while Pirates returned the favour with a 1-0 win in Johannesburg.

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