Mon. May 25th, 2020

Orlando Pirates vs Mamelodi Sundowns: Six key players to watch

The biggest clash so far this year s undoubtedly between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns, set to take place on Wednesday.

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Orlando Pirates host Mamelodi Sundowns in an eagerly-awaited clash on Wednesday and several players from either side could be eyeing the fixture as their moment to shine.

The Buccaneers are looking to climb higher than their lowly sixth position, while their opponents aim to close the gap between themselves and the log leaders.

A big blow for Sundowns will be missing the suspended Themba Zwane, along with injured strike duo Jose Ali Meza and Mauricio Affonso, along with Phakamani Mahlambi.

However, there is enough firepower on display from either side, and we take a look at those players who could command some special attention from both the opposition and the watching audience.

Orlando Pirates

Gabadinho Mhango – striker

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Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates during the Carling Black Label Cup Match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates on the 27 July 2019 at FNB Stadium, Soweto Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Fresh off a hat-trick and sporting six goals in his last three matches, Gabadinho Mhango is undoubtedly the form striker in the league in recent weeks.

After netting against Black Leopards, Bloemfontein City and Polokwane City to take his tally for the season to ten, there is no better occasion to prove he is no flat-track bully than against the defending league champions.

Fortune Makaringe – midfielder

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Fortune Makaringe of Orlando Pirates during 2019 Carling Black Label Cup Orlando Pirates Media Day on the 25 July 2019 at Rand Stadium Pic/ BackpagePix

Since making his move from Maritzburg United, Fortune Makaringe has grown in the Orlando Pirates shirt and has earned a regular spot in the midfield.

The player has been a creative force for the Buccaneers, and the magnitude of the occasion on Wednesday could inspire another big performance from him.

Ben Motshwari – midfielder

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Ben Motshwari of Orlando Pirates getting a yellow card from Victor Hlungwani, referee of the match during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 game between Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates at Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on 04 January 2020 © Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

Pirates missed the combative nature of the diminutive midfielder when he was sidelined earlier in the season, and will be pleased to see him return to his best towards the business end of the campaign.

Motshwari is another player who loves a big game and will be high on confidence after getting off the mark during Pirates’ last outing – the 4-1 thumping of Polokwane City.

Mamelodi Sundowns

Gaston Sirino – midfielder

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Mamelodi Sundowns forward Gaston Sirino celebrates during the Premiership match between Black Leopards and Mamelodi Sundowns at Thohoyandou Stadium in Thohoyandou, South Africa. Photo: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

With Zwane and co absent for the clash, all eyes will be on Sirino to provide the spark that could be the difference between the two sides on the night.

The Uruguayan has been one of Sundowns’ key players since arriving in South Africa and has not shown any signs of slowing down.

Thapelo Morena – defender/midfielder/striker

The versatile Morena could once again be deployed up-front, following the injury/suspension crisis at the club.

Mosimane has, however, preferred to keep the speedy player in defence when it comes to “big games’ but could be forced to play him as a striker against the Buccaneers.

Hlompho Kekana – midfielder 

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Hlompho Kekana celebrates goal with Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Chippa United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria on 23 April 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The Sundowns skipper will once more require some attention, as allowing him some space – from almost anywhere on the field – has hurt many sides in his past, thanks to his booming boot.

The veteran midfielder also offers invaluable experience in the middle of the park.

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