Relegation threatened Swallows FC will welcome Orlando Pirates on Friday March 3 at Dobsonville Stadium. Kick-off is at 19:30.
Swallows go into this encounter on a high after making light work of Chippa United, beating them 2-1 last weekend on Sunday February 26, a game that saw Morgan Mammila being released from his coaching duties at Chippa.
For Orlando Pirates, who will be boosted by the return of head coach, Jose Riveiro to the bench, the match gives them an opportunity to appease their supporters after a disappointing Soweto derby loss to Kaizer Chiefs.
While Swallows will be looking for another three points to move further up the log table, Bucs will also be hoping for a win to intensify their efforts to finish second on the log and qualify for the CAFCL.
The last time the two sides met, Pirates walked out as 1-0 winners on the 6th of August 2022.
In their last five encounters, the Birds have won only once, with Amabhakaniya winning two, while two of the matches ended in a stalemate.
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The fact of the matter is
On paper, Orlando Pirates are too strong for Swallows, and they should easily clip the Birds’ wings.
An attack that features man of the moment, Monnapule Saleng, Thembinkosi Lorch, Vincent Pule, Terence Dzvukamanja, and Phillip Ndlondlo, should be too much for Swallows to defend against.
But it will depend on how high the Birds decide to fly tomorrow, with regards to their defensive organization.
Against Chippa United, Swallows didn’t have to dominate possession to win the game.
They only had 41% of the ball, but still managed to fashion seven goal attempts, putting three on target, from which they scored their two goals.
While Chippa had the lions’ share of possession with 59% and 10 goal attempts, Swallows were able to keep them at bay, limiting them to only two shots on target.
More of the same can be expected on Thursday against Amabhakaniya.
Ernst Middendorp will want to keep things as tight as possible at the back, with Kwanda Mngonyama, Yagan Sasman, Pentjie Zulu, Nicholas Lukhubeni, and Junaid Sait key for Swallows’ possession.
In attack, the Birds will look to hit Amabhakaniya with quick offensive transitions, and set-pieces to sneak a much needed victory.
On the other end, Bucs will have to find solutions to unlock a well organised defensive structure. That is something they failed to do against Amakhosi in the Soweto derby, managing just two shots on target in 90 minutes of football.
Lorch, Pule, should he start ahead of Hotto, and Saleng will be the keys that Pirates will need to unlock the Swallows defence.
Pule and Saleng’s pace and skill, as well as Lorch’s creative play around the box, should do the trick for Jose Riveiro’s men.
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In a nutshell
As much as Pirates are favourites to win this encounter, Swallows want it as much as them.
An early goal from Pirates might make the game more interesting, forcing Swallows to play on the offensive.
But if Swallows score first, Orlando Pirates will be in deep trouble.