The Masandawana coach profiled their opponents ahead of Sunday’s league confrontation which comes just over two weeks after their last cup meeting
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena has refused to be misled by Orlando Pirates’ inconsistent form as they prepare to visit the Soweto giants for a Premier Soccer League clash at Orlando Stadium.
While Sundowns recently hit a difficult patch of form, Pirates have always been struggling to maintain some steadiness in their results this season.
But Mokwena is not reading much into that, hailing the Buccaneers as one of the best PSL sides at counter-attacking as he analyses how their opponents could hurt them.
Sunday’s match comes just over two weeks after Sundowns thrashed the Soweto giants 4-1 in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals.
“Their results might not be consistent but their play has been quite consistent. Orlando Pirates are probably one of the most effective counter-attacking teams in the league,” Mokwena told the media.
“When we did our post-match analysis when we beat them you could still see the plan and the transition of their team which relies extensively on the mobile qualities of their offensive players.
“Their results might give you a false impression because the reality is Pirates are a team with a clear playing profile. You have to be very careful about controlling their most dangerous aspect which is their movement, their fluidity and speed, particularly of their offensive players.”
Interestingly, both sides have posted similar results in their respective last five outings.
Each of them has managed a win, two draws and as many defeats across all competitions.
While Sundowns lead the PSL standings, Pirates are placed fourth with nine points less after both teams have each played 23 league matches so far.
Mokwena feels that it is too early for the Buccaneers to throw in the towel in the title race.
“I think if I am at Orlando Pirates I would say to myself that it would be nothing else but a disaster not to consider ourselves to be in the title race,” Mokwena said.
“And I would think the work they have done, the recruitment they have made and the investment in the club this season should suggest winning things. Knowing the club I don’t think they consider themselves out of the title race.
“Pirates are a very big club and I have a lot of respect particularly because I worked at the organisation. We are wary of the Buccaneers of course. It would be naive and very foolish of us to go into this game without humility and respect.
“They are a good team with very good players and we have a huge admiration of the squad they have. We have to be very careful. They have players who have the ability to influence results. We have a lot of respect not just for the institution but playing personnel. When you have the quality they have you know you it can influence results.”
Sundowns go into Sunday’s match on the backdrop of failing to win their last four games in all competitions while Pirates have not recorded victory in their last three outings.