Pirates sweat over Teko
Johannebsurg - Title chasing Orlando Pirates are sweating over the fitness of revitalised midfield talisman Teko Modise, who is injured and doubtful for Bucs' final Absa Premiership match of the year against Platinum Stars at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.
Kick-off is at 20:00.
Modise bounced back to form after being sidelined by coach Ruud Krol for three months and turned in a Man of the Match performance helping Pirates down bottom club Moroka Swallows 2-0 last weekend, but suffered an ankle injury in that win.
“Modise was back to his old self against Swallows and while we are concerned, we are keeping our fingers crossed he reports fit for the match,” said Pirates spokesperson Mickey Modisane on Tuesday.
Also missing will be another midfielder, Andile Jali, who picked up his third yellow card against the Birds and faces an automatic one match ban. Jali's loss is offset by the return of flying winger Daine Klate who returns from suspension after sitting out the Birds clash.
With Jali out it means Krol will have to shuffle his midfield. Klate returns to the left wing with Modise, if fit, playing a central role and Clifford Ngobeni moving into his usual anchor role in front of the defence.
The Buccaneers are determined to reward their loyal fans with a Christmas bonus of winning three back-to-back Premiership matches and keeping the title race red hot as the teams head into the Festive Season break.
Bucs bounced back brilliantly after losing to archrivals Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in the Telkom Knockout final earlier this month, by defeating Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 and Birds 2-0 to move into second place in the standings - six behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns as the clubs play their final round of fixtures for 2010 on Wednesday.
“We have already collected six of the nine points from our last three games of 2010, but we need the fans to come to the party against Stars and be our 12th man," said Modisane.
"We want them to enjoy the Christmas break knowing we are hot on Sundowns' heels. The league is not won at Christmas time, but nine points will see us start the New Year in a healthy and strong position.”
Bucs are wary of the influence of Stars coach Owen da Gama and their South African under-20 midfield star Mduduzi Nyanda, who is on loan from Pirates.
“Da Gama is a former Pirates coach and when he was at Celtic made life difficult for us. We are therefore expecting a tough battle and Nyanda is an emerging talent. He was not able to get much game time last season due to the strength of our squad, but he is developing into a top class player,” said Modisane.
Sundowns play a revitalised AmaZulu at the Lucas Moripe Stadium (19:30) and Usuthu go into this match with their tails up after beating struggling Black Aces 4-0 at home last weekend. They do, however, face a side determined to keep their six point lead at the top of the table.
Aces have another tough 90 minutes ahead of them when they host Kaizer Chiefs at Witbank’s Puma Rugby Stadium (19:30).
Bottom club Swallows also have a difficult fixture away game to Vasco da Gama at Newlands, also at 19:30.
The Birds under coach Gordon Igesund are still without a win after 11 matches. Igesund will be looking to remedy that and haul the under achieving team off the foot of the table.
A closely fought 90 minutes is expected at the Botshabelo Stadium where Free State Stars and Celtic clash in the Free State derby also at 19:30.
Other fixtures: Golden Arrows v Ajax Cape Town (Chatsworth Stadium 15:30); Santos v SuperSport United (Athlone Stadium 15:30); BidVest Wits v Maritzburg United (Mbombela Stadium 19:30).