Buccaneers desperate for Brazilians' booty

football15 February 2024 16:33| © Mzansi Football

History is not on Orlando Pirates' side as they look to bring an end to Mamelodi Sundowns' unbeaten start to the DStv Premiership season at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, February 17. Kick-off is at 8pm CAT (SA, GMT+2), live on SuperSport.


The Buccaneers have lost their last seven match-ups with the Brazilians in the league and you'd have to go back four years to find their last win (1-0) which came on 15 January 2020.

Jose Riveiro's side concluded 2023 on a disappointing note after suffering back-to-back defeats against SuperSport United (3-1) and Stellenbosch (3-2), having won their previous three matches.

Pirates went into the Africa Cup of Nations break sitting fifth in the standings on 25 points, 13 adrift of league leaders Masandawana, who have played two games less.

The defending champions endured a gruelling December which saw them play eight times in the space of 28 days both domestically and on the continent as their perfect league record was finally dashed following a 0-0 draw with Cape Town City.

Rulani Mokwena's side dropped points again six days later when they played out to another goalless draw with Polokwane City on December 30, allowing the Citizens to cut the gap down to nine points in second place.


Sundowns recently bolstered their squad with the signings of Matias Esquivel, Tashreeq Matthews and Zuko Mdunyelwa, with Mokwena explaining the strategy behind the acquisitions.

"We've been very clear with regards to what the club is trying to do, in dropping the average age of the squad and of course when you look at this thing from a long-term perspective, we want to be able to have a team that can compete," Mokwena said.

"And not only compete in the immediate but sustain the ability to perform and win trophies for an extended period of time.

"And that means the age bracket of the players we're trying to incorporate into the squad are players that are a little bit younger of course and players that show incredible potential, who we feel we can work hard on to improve.

"And hopefully in the next few years, they can give Mamelodi Sundowns a lot of success and sustained success and Tash, Zuko and Matias Esquivel they tick that box."

Pirates have also added two new faces to their squad and captain Innocent Maela hailed the arrivals of Thabiso Lebitso from Chippa United and Thalente Mbatha from SuperSport United.

"Look... top, top players. We support them and I am sure they'll be able to contribute massively going forward,” Maela said.

"I've always said this, we trust our leadership, we trust our management that whenever they bring in players, they bring in the best. They always bring in players who come in and improve us as a team."


Mamelodi Sundowns - Lucas Ribeiro enjoyed an outstanding first five months in South Africa following his arrival from SK Beveren in the off-season, registering seven goals and one assist in 10 top-flight appearances. The Brazilian has formed a good understanding with Themba Zwane and Peter Shalulile in attack to put Sundowns in a commanding position at the midway point of the season.

Orlando Pirates - Evidence Makgopa had to wait patiently for his chance at Mayfair after making the switch from Baroka in July 2022, but was finally given the opportunity to impress this season and has earned the favour of Riveiro. The 23-year-old scored four goals in 13 games for Pirates and was rewarded with a place in the Bafana Bafana squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, where they finished third.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: (Last five DStv Premiership meetings)

Matches - 5

Sundowns wins - 5

Pirates wins - 0

Draws - 0