bucs next test for santos

BOEBIE Solomons' quest for league honours with Santos faces another challenge when the Cape side welcome Orlando Pirates to Athlone Stadium tonight.

Solomons has instilled the kind of discipline and fighting spirit in his side that has seen them become genuine title contenders.

After their 2-1 win away to Mpumalanga Black Aces on Tuesday, Santos will look to heap more pressure on SuperSport United, who lost their midweek game against Lamontville Golden Arrows. The chasing pack of Sundowns, Chiefs and Santos all won their matches and reduced the gap between themselves and United to only six points.

The fall of Pirates has been dramatic. From being genuine title contenders Bucs are now close to being no-hopers.

With 23 matches played and 36 points, they appear out of the race, even with their communications manager Mickey Modisane's warning that they have "a big surprise" for their detractors come the end of the season. A lot of their recent results have been blamed on star midfielder Teko Modise's loss of form, despite Pirates insisting they are not a one-man team. Eleazar Rodgers and Erwin Isaacs, who scored in Aces' defeat by Santos, will once again be looked at for goals, while Katlego Mashego and a rejuvenated Phenyo Mongala carry the Buccaneers' hopes.

l At Milpark Stadium tomorrow night, Bidvest Wits welcome Arrows in a match the visitors look set to win. Abafana Bes'thende go into tomorrow's contest buoyed by their 1-0 success over defending champions United in midweek. Both matches start at 8pm.

l After their 5-2 stroll over Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday, Platinum Stars will be eager for another emphatic win tomorrow at the expense of Free State Stars. They meet at Moruleng Stadium outside Rustenburg at 8.15pm.

l Celtic will try to make amends when they host Ajax Cape Town at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium on Sunday. Kickoff is at 3.30pm.

l Maritzburg United and Moroka Swallows will try to pull out all the stops at Pietermaritzburg's Woodburn Stadium on Sunday after both sides lost their midweek matches.

l AmaZulu can easily brush aside tail-enders Jomo Cosmos on Sunday if they can repeat their inspired display when they hammered Swallows 4-0 on the road on Wednesday. They host a desperate Cosmos side at Moses Mabhida Stadium at 3.30pm.