New PSL season: Orlando Pirates really need to win a trophy in 2019-20
Orlando Pirates have finished runners-up in the last two seasons and blew the title race in 2018-19 when it was there for the taking.
But for an equaliser scored by Cape Town City in their penultimate Absa Premiership game‚ The Buccaneers would be heading into this season as champions.
Pirates have made another swathe of changes in the off-season‚ but it is slightly questionable as to whether they are any better off.
They must learn to turn draws into wins and although they are sure to be expertly coached by Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic‚ there remains some uncertainty over their execution.
Certainly they should be title challengers again and look to be the biggest threat to Mamelodi Sundowns’ dominance.
On the face of it Pirates have bought well‚ but there are also quite a few “squad fillers” in there who are unlikely to push for a first team place.
The acquisition of French goalkeeper Joris Delle could solve a troublesome position as he rivals Wayne Sandilands and Siyabonga Mpontshane for a place‚ while Fortune Makaringe is an excellent addition to the midfield.
Siphesihle Ndlovu has the potential to be too if he can get his form back.
Gabadinho Mhango can be both exhilarating and frustrating in equal measure up-front‚ and it will be interesting to see how the likes of Bongani Sam and Kabelo Dlamini adjust to a bigger stage.
Pirates play with great structure and a burst of speed up-front with the likes of Vincent Pule‚ Thembinkosi Lorch and Justin Shonga able to run at defences. Add Mhango to that list now.
They play the ball on the park and use width‚ but also have the ability to pass through teams with Xola Mlambo and now Makaringe in the central midfield positions.
With Thamsanqa Gabuza gone‚ they have no real targetman-style striking option‚ unless they play Zakhile Lepasa in that position. But this is a big step up from TS Galaxy.
Like their fellow Caf Champions League participants Sundowns‚ Pirates find themselves on the road a lot in the opening months of the season.
Five of their first eight Absa Premiership matches are away‚ though they do start at home against Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday.
They will also play Sundowns home and away inside 11 days in January‚ which is a bit odd‚ and that could be the crucial part of the season if they can grab maximum points.
They do not have the easiest of run-ins with matches away at Cape Town City and Maritzburg United‚ and home to SuperSport United and Stellenbosch FC. The latter is their last game.