Can Bucs shake chokers tag against Sundowns?

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

Orlando Pirates have won nothing significant this season, hardly made their fickle supporters the usual "Happy People", but a good win over Mamelodi Sundowns this evening could make up some lost ground.

The league champions are merely honouring a fixture at Ellis Park (8pm kickoff), but for Pirates it is a must-win match to boost their chances of finishing second and grab the remaining CAF Champions League spot.

This tilts the pressure towards the Buccaneers and if they have proved anything this season, it is that they are worse chokers than the Proteas cricket team. They failed to beat an awful Kaizer Chiefs team depleted by injuries to their two best strikers, Shaun Bartlett and Kaizer Motaung junior.

Sundowns might have gone off the boil a bit but they only need to up the gear to just above pedestrian pace and they are guaranteed a result they do not even need.

Pirates coach Bibey Mutombo justified some of his substitutions in the derby, saying his team had lacked penetration, but the likes of Jabu Mahlangu track back because the team defends too deep. Pirates have been punished trying to soak up too much pressure on numerous occasions, and Sundowns will do exactly that if not forced on the back foot.

Lerato Chabangu, Surprise Moriri, Godfrey Sapula and even Peter Ndlovu thrive on attack and with Lucas Thwala down with chicken pox, Sundowns could find their task even easier.

Thwala's absence, though, has seen winger Joseph Makhanya bulldoze his way back into the senior team after a stint in the reserves.

With the on-form Makhanya on the right and Bennet Chenene on the left, Sundowns could be forced to raise a sweat tonight but the Bucs strike-force of Mulondo Sikhwivhilu and Manuel Bucuane has recently proved too blunt to threaten anybody.

A win for Bucs, which is unlikely, will see them leap to fifth place.