Bucs eye return to winning ways against City
Orlando Pirates will be seeking their first win in three DStv Premiership outings when they face Cape Town City at the DHL Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 5.30pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
The Buccaneers were beaten 2-0 by league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns in their final match of 2022, which followed on from a 1-0 defeat to arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs prior to the World Cup break.
Jose Riveiro's side have won just one of their last five games in the top flight and find themselves a massive 15 points adrift of the Brazilians in fifth position.
However, Riveiro has not given up hope of chasing down Masandawana, insisting that anything can happen in a jam-packed fixture list for the remainder of the season.
"The game we played on Friday against Sundowns is not going to make a difference at the end of the season about the position on the table," the Spaniard said.
"That's why the league is so important because you must play well in other matches and go to Cape Town City and get three points and go to other games to try and get three points.
"Had we got three points against Sundowns, it would have helped us to close the gap with one game less or one more than Sundowns we couldn't and now it is a big difference.
"But the season is still long, we have played only 14 matches and there are still a lot of points to be played and we will continue to fight until the end."
The Citizens ended 2022 on a positive note after edging Royal AM 2-1 in Cape Town last Friday but they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at home to SuperSport United on Tuesday.
It was their third loss in five league encounters and City head coach Eric Tinker admitted his team's ball retention was sub-par, which contributed to the disappointing result in their own backyard.
“Maintaining possession is normally our strength," he said. "Normally, by halftime we have 300 successful passes and in this game we only managed to get just over 200.
"Our possession stats were poor, passing accuracy was poor and that allowed SuperSport to come more and more into the game. We are supposed to be dominant at home in terms of possession but that wasn't the case.
"So I am obviously disappointed because we were playing with a fear of losing."
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Cape Town City:
Thami Mkhize: The 34-year-old right-back missed the first two fixtures of the season but has featured in every match since then, contributing one goal and one assist in 12 appearances. Mkhize had a good game against Matsatsantsa, making two crucial blocks in the first half while he should have scored just before halftime but could only fire into the side-netting from close range.
Juan Camilo Zapata: The 28-year-old Colombian could be given another chance to stake a place in midfield after being handed his debut against SuperSport. Zapata, who only joined the club last month, figured for 74 minutes before he was replaced by Mduduzi Mdantsane.
Monnapule Saleng: The 24-year-old winger was Pirates' best player against Sundowns and threatened to score twice but Ronwen Williams denied him on both occasions. Saleng has become integral to Riveiro's plans of late after being left out of the squad for the opening seven games of the season.
Ben Motshwari: The 31-year-old midfielder made only his third start of the campaign against the Brazilians and was unlucky not to get off the mark after seeing his long-range strike hit the right post in the second half. Downs penetrated Bucs' midfield far too easily and Riveiro will be looking for more from the likes of Motshwari in the Mother City.