Free State Stars eyeing Pirates scalp

Free State Stars will want to bag their second Absa Premiership win when they host Orlando Pirates on Saturday evening at Goble Park Stadium.

Kick-off is at 6:00pm.

The improved Ea Lla Koto will want to bag their consecutive win and ensure they keep moving up the log table.

Fresh from a 1-0 win over SuperSport United in their midweek game at home, coach Luc Eymael will motivate charges to stun the Buccaneers.

In addition, the Bethlehem-based side has been revived following the arrival of the Belgian mentor at the beginning of this season and are a different outfit.

In their previous three matches, they have also defeated Golden Arrows, but lost 3-0 to Bloemfontein Celtic in the Free State derby last Sunday.

Sitting at No 6 with 19 points from 14 league games means Stars will want to ensure Pirates go back to Soweto empty handed.

On the part of the visitors, they are not doing well so far as they have been lacking consistency in their league run.

Coach Milutin Sredojevic led his side to a 1-1 draw against AmaZulu, goalless draw against Amatsantsantsa A Pitori, but were victorious over Siwelele in Bloemfontein.

Pirates trail log leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns by five points at the second spot and have 20 points next to their name from 14 league games.

Although heading to Goble Park always give the Ghost tough times, they are under a new coach and the encounter is set to be a thrilling affair.

Previous Starting XI

Free State Stars: Sangare, Mobbie, Teyise, Keita, Phungwayo, Hlubi, Makhaula, Vilakazi, Jantjie, Dlamini, Mthembu

Orlando Pirates: Mabokgwane, Nyauza, Shitolo, Chabalala, Matlaba, Nyatama, Makola, Memela, Kutumela, Nkosi, Shonga

Head-to-Head

LAST 10 LEAGUE RESULTS

Season Result Scorers

2012/13 Pirates 1-0 Stars Myeni

2012/13 Stars 1-1 Pirates Masehe; Mbesuma (pen)

2013/14 Pirates 2-0 Stars Matlaba, Makola

2013/14 Stars 1-1 Pirates Henyekane; Gcaba

2014/15 Pirates 1-0 Stars Klate

2014/15 Stars 1-1 Pirates Sekola; Erasmus

2015/16 Stars 1-0 Pirates Nkosi

2015/16 Pirates 1-0 Stars Ndoro

2016/17 Pirates 1-0 Stars Ndoro

2016/17 Stars 3-2 Pirates Sekola, Masehe, Anas; Ngobeni (og), Ndoro

LEAGUE RECORD (since 1986)

Home Away Total

P W D L GF GA P W D L GF GA P W D L GF GA

Stars 27 6 12 9 22 29 Stars 28 2 10 16 15 45 Stars 55 8 22 25 37 74

Pirates 28 16 10 2 45 15 Pirates 27 9 12 6 29 22 Pirates 55 25 22 8 74 37

What the teams are saying

Free State Stars defender Thamsanqa Teyise:

“We cannot look at the previous seasons against Pirates because this will not be an easy game, it is a new ball game altogether,” said Teyise.

“We are at home and we will work hard to retain the full three points. Pirates are on form, they have many draws but we cannot undermine their quality.

“If you look at the log table, we are not far from the top or the bottom, we have to take each game as it comes.

“We will not look ahead of us, our target is to do better and we want to ensure we avoid the bottom of the table, our dream is to finish in the top eight.”

Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic:

“We are thinking exclusively about ourselves. We want to solve the problems that we have,” said Sredojevic.

“Our strategy is working perfectly. The only piece missing is passing the ball into the net.

"That is a work in progress and I'm convinced we will reach that stage where those chances will be converted.

“For us‚ there is no home or away. We feel at home at any place we play. And we shall keep that up because it is important the way you start‚ but the most important is the way you finish."

Key players for Free State Stars

Thamsanqa Teyise: Despite waiting for his opportunity, Teyise has made a vital contribution for Stars as they fought hard to bag a win over United. His experience in the top flight will be handy as they want to beat Pirates and move up the log table.

Siphelele Mthembu: The former Pirates player, Mthembu will be a threat for the Bucs defence. He scored a crucial goal at home on Wednesday and will want to score against his former bosses and see the team reaching the top five.

Key players for Orlando Pirates

Ntsikelelo Nyauza: Despite scoring an own goal last weekend against AmaZulu, Nyauza is always crucial when he moves forward for the Soweto giants. He scored an equaliser against Usuthu and that means he works hard in providing options in their attack.

Mpho Makola: The former Stars midfielder will be emotional going back to Bethlehem, but will want to do the job for his side. Stars will need to watch him when it comes to set pieces and will unleash dangerous shots when unmarked.