Absa Premiership Preview: Highlands Park v Orlando Pirates
Orlando Pirates have an opportunity to keep league leaders Bidvest Wits honest, when they travel to Highlands Park for matchday 16 in the Absa Premiership on Saturday.
The Buccaneers are chasing a fifth Premiership title this season, but a series of dropped points just before the Christmas interval severely undermined the meaningful progress that had been made after a messy start to the campaign.
To close off the first half of the campaign, they handed the season's whipping boys Free State Stars an absolute drubbing away from home.
However, not even that will be enough to erase the sheer misery of dropping points against Mamelodi Sundowns - even though it was a quality opponent - and Maritzburg United, which s staring relegation down the barrel.
The list of draws for Pirates is endless and given their current status in the league, there is a serious leak in the team's last line of defence, which simply isn't being adequately plugged.
To have conceded twelve goals at this stage of the competition is simply unacceptable.
It is also a source of encouragement for a Highlands outfit that has actually proven itself highly competent during this campaign. Pirates have scored 19 goals this season. Highlands Park have breached opposition defences 18 times.
The Highlands Park talisman, Mothobi Mvala is also the league's leading scorer. However, he is serving a yellow card suspension and is therefore not available for selection. That might just be the game changer that Pirates needed, as teams return from the break this weekend.
Highlands Park: 8
Orlando Pirates: 2
Highlands Park: (D) v SuperSport 1-1; (W) v Bloem Celtic 2-1; (D) Polokwane City 2-2
Orlando Pirates: (W) v African Stars 1-0; (D) African Stars 0-0; (W) FS Stars 3-1
Highlands Park: Phoka Mofokeng (Red Card Suspension); Mothobi Mvala (Yellow Card Suspension)
Orlando Pirates: Brilliant Khuzwayo (Ankle); Marshall Munetsi (Red Card Suspension)
PREDICTION: Pirates to win by one
Date: January 5
Venue: Makhulong Stadium