One of Mzansi’s finest footballers, the legendary Orlando Pirates former midfielder and coach, Tebogo Moloi, believes there is no way Maritzburg United can beat Amabhakaniya tomorrow.
“There is no way that Maritzburg United can beat Orlando Pirates at home [Orlando Stadium] tomorrow,” Bucs legend, Tebogo Moloi told ThisIsFootball.Africa.
“Yes they can be our hoodoo team when they are playing at Harry Gwala stadium; they are difficult to beat there.
“But with Orlando Pirates playing at home, and the momentum that they have at the moment, without sounding complacent, or undermining Fadlu Davids, who is a good coach, and a good tactician by the way, I don’t see them upsetting Pirates at home.
“If you look at the current Orlando Pirates team, with Saleng on top of his game, Pule, Ndlondlo, and Erasmus, with Lorch having come back from injury, Bucs have a strong attacking team, and then you can have Ben Motshwari sitting behind them, you have a great attacking team.”Orlando Pirates will host Maritzburg United on Friday night, 19:30, at Orlando Stadium.
On paper, Amabhakaniya should have no problems brushing aside the 15th placed team of choice.
Fadlu David’s side average 0.68 goals scored per match, while they concede 1.26, according to footystats.org.
When it comes to creating goal scoring opportunities, the Team of Choice are not the best of creators either, with their xGF (expected goals for) standing at 1.27.
On the other hand, their xGA (expected goals against) is a worrying 1.66! Meaning they concede a lot of good chances to their opponents.
Their possession average is 48% per match, with only 8.67 shots average.
With the quality Orlando Pirates have in their team, they should have no problems taking all the three points, right?
Unfortunately that is not how football works, just this past weekend, Maritzburg United, playing most of the game with ten men and completely dominated by Kaizer Chiefs, forced the game into extra time.
But wait, there is a better example! When the two sides met during the first round, Orlando Pirates had 62% of the ball, 10 shots, and an xGF of 1.33, compared to United’s 38% possession, 7 shots, and an xGF of 1.17, yet Maritzburg went on to win the match.
Also Read: Latest News Round-Up: Mamelodi Sundowns Have Caught A Big Fish In Michael Loftman
See where are we going with this?
In Maritzburg United’s last five league matches, all under their new coach, Fadlu Davids, they have managed to win three, drew one, and lost one.
They scored six goals, with four conceded, but the most interesting fact about United’s performance in those five matches, is that they were dominated in all of them, yet they went on to win three of the matches, losing only one.
United’s fight against relegation.
While Orlando Pirates are pushing for second spot, Maritzburg United are fighting for survival.
With their backs against the wall, the team of choice are a dangerous opponent at the moment, and they will do everything within their means to sneak a point or three away from from Bucs, in a game Fadlu Davids, aptly called a war.
“We lost the battle against Chiefs but have prepared for the war, and the war is the league,” said Davids after his side’s Nedbank Cup loss to Kaizer Chiefs.
“We had discussions this week about working together as a unit and that’s what we are going to do from now on.
“Not the best performance with the ball against Chiefs. Hopefully, we can take the positives out of that game into our next match against Pirates and it will definitely prepare us for that war.
“But the belief has to come now from the players knowing that they can go toe-to-toe with any team.”
David’s statement says it all, Orlando Pirates, must indeed prepare for a war.
What can Bucs do to beat Maritzburg United?
The key word for Orlando Pirates on Friday night is GOALS!
Amabhakaniya will have to make sure they take their opportunities, which might not come in abundance.
If everything goes according to Fadlu’s plan, Maritzburg might not be too generous with giving away too many chances, which means Pirates will have to be more clinical in front of goal.
Once again, Monnapule Saleng will be key for Amabhakaniya in attack, with the rejuvenated Dzvukamanja also expected to start.
Thembinkosi Lorch, who is also expected to make an appearance, albeit later in the game, might be key in helping his side unlock the Maritzburg United defense should the game stay 0-0 until late in the second half.
Off possession, a well-organized rest defense will be key for Amabhakaniya, as Maritzburg might be a huge threat on the transition.
The likes of Peprah, Meza, and Kimvuidi can swiftly turn defense into attack.