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Worlds apart: Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns

2:14 am AEDT 17/12/21
Andile Jali Mamelodi Sundowns Tshegofatso Mabasa Orlando Pirates
The Brazilians have beaten the Buccaneers in all of their last four matches while scoring 10 goals and conceding just one

The gulf in class between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates seems to be growing by the season.

With just a little over half the season gone, Sundowns have a 15 point lead over second-placed Kaizer Chiefs, and a 16 point advantage over Pirates in third.

As such, even a win for Pirates on Friday would be little more than a token victory, because the possibility of closing the gap and reeling the Brazilians in, already seems highly improbable.

That Sundowns can afford to lose on Friday and will hardly see their lead dented, should be worrying for Pirates and indeed the rest of the chasing pack.

It's not just the points gap, but it's the fact that Bucs (rather like their archrivals Kaizer Chiefs) are so inconsistent these days.

It's a gulf that appears to be getting bigger with each passing season, and it's something the likes of Chiefs and Pirates should be worrying about.

It of course hasn't always been this way - 10 years ago Pirates were the all-conquering side in the PSL after winning back-to-back trebles.

Comparing the two teams today, one thing that stands out is the stability Sundowns have enjoyed in the technical department.

After the immensely successful reign of Pitso Mosimane, his two previous assistants, Manqoba Mngquiti and Rhulani Mokwena have picked up the baton and run with it. That sense of continuity has worked superbly. Plus they added the wily Steve Komphela to the team.

Upstairs, club owner Patrice Motsepe has underlined his immense stature by becoming Caf president, while his son Tlhopie, has slotted in seamlessly and hit the ground running by helping secure an impressive partnership with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports International.

However, at Pirates, there has been chopping and changing of coaches and the two current men in charge, Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi, were never even officially handed the job.

One also has to wonder what made the previous coach Josef Zinnbauer jump ship so suddenly just one game into the new season.

Adding to Bucs' woes are the recent controversies surrounding the TS Galaxy game, with Galaxy chairman Tim Sukazi later accusing Pirates chairman Dr Irvin Khoza for being responsible for the incident.

Khoza has also been taking criticism recently in his role as PSL chairman, over the league's lengthy delay on making a ruling on the two games Kaizer Chiefs missed through a Covid-19 outbreak. One just gets the feeling that all is not entirely well in the Bucs camp.