Bucs shifting focus on defending MTN8

Orlando Pirates are shifting their focus back to defending their MTN8 title as they prepare to host Stellenbosch at Orlando Stadium for the second leg of their semifinal showdown on Sunday.

The match holds the key to securing a spot in the final for the Buccaneers, who gained a slight advantage in the away leg earlier this month.

The decider promises to be a thrilling contest as the Soweto Giants aim to further enrich their trophy cabinet, while Stellenbosch, continues their quest for their inaugural piece of silverware in top-tier competition.

For the visitors, not only a spot in the final is on the line but also the opportunity to break free from their recent slump in form that has plagued them since mid-August.

The Maroons have endured a tough period, going winless in five games, suffering four defeats, and managing just one draw, all while scoring only twice and conceding eight goals.

Their most recent setback occurred in a midweek league fixture against Swallows, where they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat despite playing a portion of the match with a numerical disadvantage.

Stellenbosch is now tasked with a must-win encounter against the defending champions, who are determined to regain their winning touch. The Buccaneers themselves suffered a recent defeat at home, falling 1-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns, marking their first loss at Orlando Stadium since February.

This loss followed their CAF Champions League defeat to Jwaneng Galaxy, ending a seven-game unbeaten streak across various competitions.

While a draw on Sunday would secure a spot in the final for Pirates, they are motivated to claim their fourth consecutive cup victory on home turf since the start of the season.

Bucs coach Jose Riveiro can count on the services of midfielder Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo, who is available for selection after serving a one-match suspension for yellow-card accumulation and could feature in the matchday squad.

Stellenbosch has received a boost as well, with defender Thabo Moloisane returning from suspension after being red-carded in the first leg. However, Ismael Toure will be absent after his red card in Tuesday’s league clash against Swallows.

Zakhele Lepasa, currently the leading goal scorer in the competition, will be eager to find the back of the net once more on Sunday. Known for his excellent positioning and spatial awareness, the Pirates striker has a knack for appearing in the right place at the right time and possesses the ability to create scoring opportunities seemingly out of thin air.

Crucial for the visitors’ chances will be keeping the Buccaneers from scoring, and Sage Stephens, their goalkeeper, will once again play a pivotal role. The 32-year-old displayed fine shot-stopping skills in the opening leg, thwarting Pirates’ attempts to find the net.

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