Pirates, United hoping to fire

THERE will be little chance of a repeat of the drab goalless draw of the first round when Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United clash in the Absa Premiership tonight, if the firepower available to both coaches is anything to go by.

Pirates coach Roger de Sa and his counterpart Gavin Hunt resume their league campaigns at Orlando Stadium at 7.30pm with strikers under the spotlight.

De Sa has, for the first time since arriving at Pirates, all his strikers available for this crucial match.

The coach confirmed that Zambia forward Collins Mbesuma returned from the Africa Cup of Nations unscathed, while Benni McCarthy, Ndumiso Mabena, Takesure Chinyama and Thulasizwe Mbuyane are all injury-free.

"I don't think it has ever happened since I have been there. It's a good selection poser and hopefully whoever gets picked will deliver," said De Sa, who has managed to guide the Buccaneers to second spot on the log after 16 matches.

Mbesuma has featured more for Pirates than his fellow strikers and has managed four league goals this season.

"Collins has always been battling with fitness and getting sharper. I don't think I have ever seen him this fit. He might be in the best shape of his life," De Sa said.

McCarthy spent much of his time during the Afcon finals as a pundit. Now all eyes will be on him if he plays tonight.

Hunt said the decision to swap the hard-working Mabhuti Khenyeza for Ajax Cape Town's Bradley Grobler had more to do with the player being unsettled than him being surplus to requirements in Pretoria.

However, Hunt welcomes Grobler, a proven scorer in his time with Platinum Stars, but who struggled in the Mother City. The bad news for Matsatsantsa is that defender Lucas Thwala will play no further part this season because of recurring injury problems.

Midfielder George Maluleka is also likely to miss tonight's game.