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SA SOCCER NEWS

Preview - Pirates v Black Leopards


There is no masking the gloom which has shrouded Orlando Pirates since the beginning of the season. As a club that has twice finished second in the league in successive seasons, whilst also reaching the semi-finals of the lucrative African Champions League, many think they have become also-rans - something they will look to disprove.

With underfire coach Milutin Sredojevic having much to ponder as he prepares his inept side for Wednesday night's Castle Premiership match against fellow strugglers Black Leopards (8pm) at Ellis Park, there is no doubt that he is creaking under the strain.

Reports of a disgruntled technical team and disjointed players who are fresh from a 3-1 spanking by giant-killers Bloemfontein Celtic, has left the 'Buccaneers' in an unfamiliar 13th spot on 13 points, the same as their opponents who have played three more matches than them.

Although the 38-year-old Sredojevic's stay at Pirates is likely to end soon, he remains bullish about his team's prospect of making inroads - beginning with Wednesday's clash against Leopards.

"Our loss against Celtic was bad considering we scored first. I have just arrived and it could be wrong to say what is the real problem, as we are failing to collect maximum points," said former Leopards striker Rudzani Ramudzuli.

He added: "Facing my former team is a motivation on itself. But I have nothing to prove. I have moved on and scoring against them will be a cheery on top."

For 'Lidoda Duvha', who held another Soweto giant, Moroka Swallows, to a dramatic 2-2 draw only to lose against Santos in their previous fixture, facing a disgruntled Pirates might be just what the doctor has ordered.

"This is the perfect chance to add more woes to Pirates," said Leopards spokesperson Tshifhiwa 'Chief' Thidiela.

"We are both hovering at the relegation spot and beating them will ensure that we have pulled the biggest scalp. The boys are ready and a draw will not be bad either."
                                                                                                                     
Key players:

Orlando Pirates - Rudzani Ramudzuli
Ramudzuli will be highly-motivated against his former team and the best way of helping Pirates out of the lower half of the league table will be to score against his former employers.

Black Leopards - Robert Ng'ambi
Ng'ambi carries even more of a burden for Leopards following the departure of Mulondo Sikhwivhilu and Rudzani Ramudzuli. The club's leading goal-scorer this season will hope to inspire his side to a famous win over Pirates.

Match preview by Patrick Baloyi/Backpagepix

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Sunday, January 20
Castle Premiership

Pirates v Swallows 
Kick-off: 3.45pm
Venue: Ellis Park

Sunday, January 28
Castle Premiership

Swallows v Premier United 
Kick-off: 3.45pm
Venue: Germiston Stadium

January 14
Castle Premiership
Won 1-0 v Silver Stars
Venue: Germiston Stadium

January 10
Castle Premiership
Lost 0-1 v Supersport
Venue:
 Loftus Stadium

Sunday, January 7
Castle Premiership
Draw 2-2 v Leopards
Venue:
Germiston Stadium

Wednesday, December 20
Castle Premiership
Won 1-0 v AmaZulu
Venue: Princess Magogo

POLL
Which areas need reinforcement at Swallows?

Strike force
 38%
Midfield
 8%
Defence
 55%