The 2016/17 PSL season has been a nightmare for Orlando Pirates’ supporters. The Soweto giants have been languishing in the bottom half of the table for what seems an eternity but as always in football; a lot can change in a little time.
The Nedbank Cup has provided a needed distraction for the Sea Robbers, two wins in that competition have helped ease new coach Kjell Jonevret’s transition into South African football and no doubt helped lift some of the pressure on his team. Pirates’ league fortunes however were not so quick to turn around. The Buccaneers had been on a winless run that spanned twelve league games and up until a couple weeks ago seemed destined to be involved in a scrappy relegation battle.
But it is their recent 2-0 triumph over Maritzburg United that has changed the conversation surrounding Pirates; talk has switched from potential relegation dogfights to genuine Top 8 hopes.
The season has been turbulent to say the least but a Top 8 finish could salvage some pride for the Soweto outfit. Only goal difference is keeping Pirates in the bottom half of the table but the Bucs have a game in hand over 8th placed Maritzburg United. Now add to that a potential run in the Nedbank Cup and the situation suddenly seems less grim.
This ‘relative’ success will heavily depend on the form of midfield duo Mpho Makola and Oupa Manyisa. Makola has been a shining light all season providing glimmers of light in a dark period for the team. Manyisa has been on a long road to recovery but finally seems to be finding his old self in recent games. Both Manyisa and Makola are not renowned for their defensive prowess and that’s where Abbubaker Mobara’s tenacity and tough tackling will play an important role.
Yes, a team of the stature of Orlando Pirates should not even be flirting with the bottom half of the league. Fans expect a league title challenge every single season.
But here we have lemons and there’s only one thing to do with lemons.
At the end of it all this might be catalogued as a season to forget, tough times for the Happy People but at this moment the dark clouds seem to be lifting.