Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Thabiso Kutumela of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria South Africa on 13 January 2018 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Sundowns remained unbeaten in the league this season and moved up to third place on the table with a 3-1 win over Free State Stars at Loftus Versfeld on November 7. Gaston Sirino netted two goals in a man-of-the-match performance for the Tshwane side.
The win was the first at home for the Brazilians this season, who have taken a total of just six points from four matches as hosts in 2018/19.
Pirates extended their unbeaten run in the league to eight matches with a 2-1 away win over Polokwane on November 6, with goals from Marcelo and Justin Shonga. The Soweto side has taken 18 points from a possible 24 in the sequence.
The Buccaneers have claimed 13 points from six away matches this season and suffered just one defeat in the process: 0-1 at Bloemfontein Celtic on August 19.
In head-to-head stats, Sundowns and Pirates have met in 67 league matches since 1985. The Brazilians have claimed 30 wins compared to 20 for the Buccaneers, while 17 games have been drawn. The Tshwane side has won 14 of 34 home matches in the rivalry, suffering 10 defeats in the process.
In the teams’ two league meetings last season, ‘Downs won 3-1 in Soweto in the first half of the campaign, while Pirates claimed revenge with a victory by the same score in Tshwane in the return game. Bucs’ win broke a five-game losing streak against the Brazilians in league football.
Sundowns’ line-up from their 3-1 win over Stars on November 7: Pieterse, Morena, Madisha, Lebusa, Lakay, Maboe, Jali, Kekana, Ngoma (Mabunda 62’), Sirino (Mahlambi 89’), Brockie (Ali Meza 79’).
Pirates’ line-up from their 2-1 win over Polokwane on November 6: Mabokgwane, Mbekile (Kutumela 58’), Munetsi, Jele, Marcelo, Mntambo, Lorch (Mabaso 70’), Makola, Qalinge, Shonga (Mahachi 83’), Mako.