Ailing Soweto giants have opportunity to turn around poor form

The Kaizer Chiefs bench looks on during a PSL match against Baroka FC Kabelo Leputu/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs have both made stuttering starts to the new league season in a campaign in which they had promised much, but have the chance to show some improvement this weekend.

The two Soweto giants have taken just six points from a possible 18 between them, with Chiefs yet to win after three matches, in what is their second worst start ever to a Premier Soccer League campaign.

The amount of games may not be a fair number on which to judge them, but on first viewing very little has changed from last season's disappointing campaign.

They remain largely toothless in attack, there is little pace on the wings with which to hit sides on the counter-attack, while adding a frailty in defence to last year's issues.

The side now travel to Maritzburg United on Friday night, in what is a tricky away day, even if their hosts have lost all three of their games so far this season.

It is a quick turnaround from Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Baroka FC and coach Giovanni Solinas says that has been part of the problem so far in this campaign - his late appointment gave him little time to work with the players in pre-season, while five games in 14 days since the start of the season means there has been a lot of recovery and not much work on the training pitch.

"The players work hard at training and I am confident that we will start playing much better once we start having more sessions to work on, for example, tactics," Solinas was quoted by his club's website.

"As for now, we will continue to focus on the recovering process to be ready for the next game.

"I am happy with the way my players are responding, although we need more consistency to compete for league and cup honours."

The problems at the back have been recognized by Solinas, which has led to a request for an early recall from loan at Bloemfontein Celtic for centre-back Lorenzo Gordinho, which has so far been rebuffed by the Free State side.

The club are also in talks to sign Ugandan defender Godfrey Walusimbi, football manager Bobby Motaung has revealed.

Maritzburg coach Fadlu Davids, who led the side to a record fourth place in the league last season and the Nedbank Cup final, is hoping to have key Belgian forward Andrea Fileccia back from injury and could also field Ivorian striker Yannick Zakri, if his paperwork comes through in time.

Davids knows that getting back to winning ways as quickly as possible is crucial and believes the fact that his side are facing a high-profile opponent in Chiefs is a bonus.

"I think the best thing that can happen now is to play against Chiefs," Davids told the SABC.

"I do not need to motivate the players. I want them to be brave, we are a good team, and they know it. We are a fantastic team; they just have to believe it.

"We just have to get a few things right and we will definitely be ready for them.

"Teams are sitting back; teams are giving us the respect. We have to acknowledge that and we have to realise that after last season's performances.

"We have to find solutions and cannot complain that they are putting a defensive structure in because all teams plan."

Pirates also face a tough away day at Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday, with the Free State side having collected maximum points from their two games so far under new coach Steve Komphela.

Pirates' 1-0 loss to BidVest Wits on Wednesday was a real blow for the side, as it showed up their frailties in front of goal once more, a problem coach Micho Sredojevic has yet to fix.

But the Serbian refused to suggest that they are a club teetering on a crisis having also been knocked out of the MTN8 at the quarterfinal stage last weekend.

"It's normal when you have a long season ahead of you to enter moments of setbacks like losing as we have done. We have unfortunately accidentally lost this game. It's a slight setback, but we don't have a crisis of performance," Sredojevic told the media on Thursday.

"We don't have a magic wand. I believe in the process, the work we are doing and the players we have. For now we have half a product. We dominate, but that domination does not bring us the results."

Pirates won on their last visit to Bloemfontein last season, but have generally struggled away at Celtic, with just three wins from their last 17 clashes in the Free State capital.

In other matches this weekend, there is a Limpopo Derby as Polokwane City, who have yet to secure a point or a goal this season, host Baroka FC at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Later that evening Cape Town City entertain Lamontville Golden Arrows in the Mother City, while top-of-the-table BidVest Wits test their 100 percent record at home to SuperSport United.

At the same time winless Chippa United entertain Black Leopards at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, while on Sunday AmaZulu host Free State Stars.