The original Soweto Derby returns after six years with much at stake for both sides who are regarded as title contenders
Trailing Mamelodi Sundowns by 11 points, although they have played two games fewer while being sixth on the table, Pirates would want to stay as close as possible to Masandawana in the title race.
After Downs beat Baroka FC 2-0 on Saturday, Swallows would also be keen to keep in touch with the leaders who are now three points better off than them.
That throws Sunday’s match into a potentially stormy affair between teams seen as title contenders.
|Game||Orlando Pirates vs Swallows FC|
|Date||Sunday, January 10|
|Time||15:30 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
|DStv.com/DStv Now App||SuperSport’s PSL channel 202/SABC 1|
Squads & Team News
Pirates will host Swallows without suspended attacking midfielder Vincent Pule, who has been one of their best performers this season.
The player has managed two goals in seven league games this season and is out after accumulating four yellow cards.
Also absent is forward Tshegofatso Mabasa, who is the team’s joint highest-scorer so far this season with two league goals, just like Pule.
A foot injury has sidelined Mabasa, who has missed Pirates’ last two games, after also being out at the start of the season due to injury.
Another striker Zakhele Lepasa will also not take part in this old Soweto derby, and is out with an ankle strain.
Just like Mabasa, Lepasa has not participated in the Buccaneers’ last two games.
The absence of Pule, Mabasa and Lepasa places DR Congo striker Jean-Marc Makusu in a prime position for his first start after making his PSL debut as a second half substitute against Mamelodi Sundowns on January 2.
Frank Mhango is almost sure to be in the starting line-up. Long-term absentee Abel Mabaso is still out nursing his injured ulna.
Swallows coach Brandon Truter has surpassed expectations on him so far this season but he now faces what could be his sternest test in his first season as a PSL coach.
He will go into battle without his regular midfielder Zaphaniah Mbokoma, who is suspended due to a collection of yellow cards.
Mbokoma has contributed a goal and an assist in Swallows’ fine run this season.
But missing the midfielder might not be much of a worry for Truter, who still has some of his reliable players available.
The presence of in-form Ruzaigh Gamildien is some encouraging news for the Dube Birds as the seasoned midfielder has managed seven league goals in nine appearances in this campaign.
Veterans like Musa Nyatama, Thabo Matlaba and captain Lebohang Mokoena will all be facing their former club, while the ever-present Vuyo Mere will also be expected to provide stability at the back.
It is not yet certain if another experienced defender Sifiso Hlanti will take part after spending the entire December 2020 without featuring for Swallows.
Pirates go into this match a wounded side after suffering their first defeat of the season in the 1-0 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns at the turn of the year.
The loss came after 10 straight unbeaten league games, dating back to August 2020, and compromised their chase of the leaders, and they are now looking to respond against their oldest rivals in the PSL.
But facing a Swallows side that is yet to taste defeat in this campaign is not an encouraging prospect for coach Josef Zinnbauer and his men.
The Dube Birds have been impressive with six victories, including beating another Soweto giant Kaizer Chiefs, and a three draws, and go into Sunday’s showdown on the backdrop of six straight wins.
The Soweto rivals last met in December 2014 at Dobsonville Stadium with their clash ending 1-1 in a tightly-contested encounter before Swallows went on to be relegated at the end of the 2014/15 season.
But prior to that last meeting, Pirates had bragging rights for ten years in which they won eight times against Swallows’ six victories, while the other eight clashes ended in draws.