Durban - Despite Orlando Pirates having some of the best players in the country at their disposal, the results aren’t going their way pressure continues to mount on the two men trusted to guide the Bucs back to their glory days.
Just weeks after co-coach Mandla Ncikazi boldly stated that Pirates are on the same level as Mamelodi Sundowns, the two sides met at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium with Sundowns dismantling and humiliating the Buccaneers 4-1, a result that left the Orlando side 19 points behind Bafana Ba Style in the DStv Premiership standings with half of the season played.
Pirates’ co-coach Fadlu Davids contradicted his fellow co-colleague Ncikazi after the Sundowns hammering, openly admitting that comparing themselves to reigning champions Sundowns would be unrealistic as the dominance of the Brazilians is as a result of years of continuous development of their squad.
The points gap between the two sides not only reflects the form of the current season, but also a disparity between two giants of South African football over a five-year period that has seen Sundowns crowned the champions of the land four times in a row.
“I don’t think we have to look at the amount of points they (Mamelodi Sundowns) are ahead of us, this Sundowns side were built over years and they’ve continued where coach Pitso (Mosimane) had started.”
“They are able to strengthen in every window with seven or eight players of high quality. Therefore we can’t look at them if we want to progress, we can only focus on how we can improve our team,” he said.
The Sea Robbers have gone nine years since their last league title. Although having enjoyed notable Cup success (MTN8 in 2020 and Nedbank Cup in 2014) in recent years, the 84 year-old South African footballing powerhouse that is Orlando Pirates must and should be feeling the weight of their supporters' expectations getting heavier with each year.
There’s no stopping Peter Shalulile in front of goal 🔥— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) December 17, 2021
He is the only in the #DStvPrem to have scored 13 or more goals in each of the last three seasons.
📺 Stream live: https://t.co/0BMWdeEYT3 pic.twitter.com/55ZfsE0NVE
The Johannesburg-based side were hammered by Sundowns for the fifth time in the year 2021, that is a damning statistic for everyone aligned with Orlando Pirates, considering this is the first time in the club's history that the gigantic Buccaneers have been beaten by the same opponents five times in the same year.
Five is also the number of coaches Pirates have had in the dugout over the past five years. Squad depth and their ability to attract high quality players from around the continent deemed Pirates the closest challenger to the high-flying Brazilians, however that hasn’t materialised.
Kjell Jonevret, Rhulani Mokwena (now Sundowns co-coach), Milutin Sredojević, Josef Zinnbauer and now Ncikazi and Davids have all had a shot at saving the sinking Pirates ship, but instead the gulf in class between the Bucs and Sundowns have widened.
The inclusion of Ncikazi in a Zinnbauer led technical team raised a few eyebrows at the beginning of the season, considering that Ncikazi had managed a relatively successful season with Golden Arrows as the main man in charge.
The club opted for an interim co-coach system (similar to that of Sundowns) and Zinnabuer’s resignation. The results of that decision was clear for all to see on Friday night.
Their recent capitulation to Sundowns, escaping with a point against a relegation threatened Swallows FC in mid-week and their 2-1 loss to a Kaizer Chiefs side in transition point to a larger degree of issues in Mayfair, ones that aren’t aided by their off-field controversies.
A milestone goal for Mshishi 🤩— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) December 17, 2021
𝐅![CDATA]>𝐈![CDATA]>𝐅![CDATA]>𝐓![CDATA]>𝐘 𝐆![CDATA]>𝐎![CDATA]>𝐀![CDATA]>𝐋![CDATA]>𝐒 in the colours of Sundowns - Only Surprise Moriri and Daniel Mudau have scored more goals than him for the club👏
📺 Stream live: https://t.co/0BMWdeEYT3 | #DStvPrem pic.twitter.com/uRA4bGCk8L
Pirates currently occupy third position on the log with five wins, nine draws - the most in the club’s history at this point of a season - and three losses , certainly not form appeasing enough to the ‘Happy People’ of South African football.
A squad made up of an error-prone goalkeeping department, a feeble & fragile defence, an inconsistent midfield and blunt frontline is certainly not a championship contender set-up that would go anywhere near challenging Sundowns.
The success of the Orlando Pirates of the past consisted of some of the best talents in the country, a powerful and influential leader and coach, as well as a continuous reassurance of the most important element of every big team, the fans.
Mamelodi Sundowns possesses entertaining and positive football, coupled with a consistent set of results, characteristics Orlando Pirates chairman, Irvin Khoza must quickly try to re-establish within the club.