Football

MTN8 FINAL PREVIEW:  MAMELODI SUNDOWNS

Orlando Pirates are gearing up for the last act of their MTN8 title defence as they take on Mamelodi Sundowns in the final played at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday evening.

The coastal city is expected to come alive as the two titans of South African football battle it out for what is the first available piece of silverware in the new season.

It’s a much-anticipated match-up that sees the Soweto Giants go in search of their third triumph in the competition in the space of four years, while their Tshwane counterparts look to reclaim the trophy they last hoisted in 2021.

Form Guide 

The Buccaneers began the defence of their 2023 title emphatically, putting five unanswered goals past Sekhukhune United in their quarterfinal clash played at Orlando Stadium to set up a two-legged semifinal tie against Stellenbosch.

A 2-2 aggregate score against the Western Cape outfit handed the Buccaneers a path into the final, largely thanks to their 2-1 victory in the away leg.

For the Brazilians, it was a less convincing start to the cup campaign as they edged a 10-man Moroka Swallows outfit 1-0 at home in the quarterfinals.

This was before securing their ticket to Moses Mabhida with a 3-2 aggregate win over Kaizer Chiefs, with the first leg of the tie finishing at one-all followed by a 2-1 home victory.

The two sides have had contrasting fortunes across various competitions, as Sundowns maintained their unbeaten start to the season while Pirates endured a three-match losing streak before exiting the CAF Champions League through a penalty shootout defeat against Jwaneng Galaxy after their Second Preliminary Round tie finished level on aggregate.

Team News

Sundowns have been boosted by the return of defender Rushine de Reuck, who has been declared fit following an injury that kept him out of action in the early part of the season.

Meanwhile, Khuliso Mudau and Mothobi Mvala are again eligible for selection after missing out on the semifinal second-leg clash against Chiefs through suspension.

Pirates have received a boost of their own in terms of technical personnel as assistant coach Mandla Ncikazi returns from suspension, while captain Innocent Maela remains doubtful after being sidelined over the past month.

Key Players 

Thabang Monare (Orlando Pirates): The tussle in the centre of the park could be key in deciding the contest, and the midfielder’s temperament and experience make him crucial to the Buccaneers’ chances. Monare is highly skilled at disrupting attacks and is also a constant presence during build-up play.

Teboho Mokoena (Mamelodi Sundowns): Mokoena has been a linchpin for Sundowns in the midfield, owing to his elite ability to read the game. The midfielder is fresh off a goal-scoring appearance in the Champions League and will be high in confidence heading into the final.

Head-to-Head

It’s the second meeting between these two sides this season following Sundowns’ 1-0 league victory at Orlando Stadium last month.

The result extended their winning streak in the league, but it’s the Buccaneers who have had the upper hand in recent years when it comes to cup fixtures.

They triumphed in the most recent of these, winning last year’s MTN8 semifinal tie by three unanswered goals, which all came in the second leg in Polokwane after a tight contest in their home leg ended goalless.

In their last eight cup meetings with their Tshwane counterparts, the Soweto Giants have registered five outright victories, losing once while the two stalemates have both come in two-legged MTN8 match-ups.

How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs Mamelodi Sundowns 

The game starts at 18:00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport PSL and SABC 1. Orlando Pirates will also provide live updates across the Club’s social media apps, including the official mobile app.

Tickets to attend the final are sold out.

SOURCED FROM THE CLUBS’ WEBSITE.

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