Leopards start new life in the big league

BLACK Leopards will play their first Premier Soccer League match in more than three years when they welcome reigning Absa Premiership champions Orlando Pirates to the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Friday night, kick-off at 8pm.

Lidoda Duvha had to earn their promotion the hard way, beating Vasco da Gama and Bay United in the promotion/relegation playoffs. It brought to an end a three-year hiatus from South Africa’s top flight after the Limpopo club was relegated to the National First Division at the end of the 2007/08 season.

The MTN-sponsored team will be delighted to once again compete in the PSL, but their first fixture against treble champions Pirates is about as tough as it gets. The Buccaneers took home the MTN8, Absa Premiership and Nedbank Cup last season, and they have already had a winning start to the defence of the first of those titles, defeating Santos 1-0 last weekend.

However, Pirates’ performance against the People’s Team was not especially convincing and they needed an extra time goal from defender Siyabonga Sangweni to avoid the lottery of penalty shootouts. Leopards coach Sunday Chidzambwa will have watched Pirates very closely and will no doubt set up his team to target any weaknesses in Bucs’ play that he will have identified.

These teams may not have played one another in a league game for more than three years, but they met as recently as May this year in the final of the Nedbank Cup. Leopards looked on their way to an upset victory after Rooi Mahamutsa scored an own goal early in the second half, but Bucs stormed back to win 3-1 thanks to an equaliser from Isaac Chansa and a late brace from Thulasizwe Mbuyane.

The head-to-head stats between the teams, as far as league football is concerned, do not make good reading for Lidoda Duvha. In 14 league matches, Leopards have managed to defeat Pirates just once – way back in 2002/03 when Christopher Netshidzivhe scored the only goal of the game.

Pirates have managed to win ten of the teams’ 14 league encounters and have racked up 21 goals along the way while conceding just eight. The Soweto side is unbeaten in their last ten league games against Leopards, a run which includes eight successive wins between the second half of the 2003/04 season and the first half of the 2007/08 season. Meanwhile MTN and Sports Focus are giving away double tickets to 10 readers. To stand a chance for winning answer this question: Which mobile company sponsors Black Leopards? Send your answer, name and e-mail address to competition@sports-focus.co.za

                                                                                                                                                                             

Previous meetings   

 

Last ten league meetings

Season            Result                                      Scorers

2003/04           Pirates 0-0 Leopards

2003/04           Leopards 0-2 Pirates   Mokoena, Mazibuko

2004/05           Leopards 2-3 Pirates   Lechesa (pen), Sikhwivhilu; Arendse 2, Leremi

2004/05           Pirates 1-0 Leopards   Vilakazi

2005/06           Pirates 1-0 Leopards   Lekgwathi

2005/06           Leopards 0-1 Pirates   Nomvethe

2006/07           Pirates 2-0 Leopards   Vilakazi, Tico-Tico

2006/07           Leopards 0-2 Pirates   Tico-Tico, Ramudzuli

2007/08           Leopards 2-3 Pirates   Ramulondi, Kondowe; Walaza 2, Chenene

2007/08           Pirates 0-0 Leopards

 

Head-to-Head

(League only, since 2001/02)

 

Total  

                        P          W         D         L          GF       GA

Leopards         14        1          3          10        8          21

Pirates             14        10        3          1          21        8

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