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Soccer

Wits look to maintain top spot against Pirates

Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates will square off in an Absa Premiership encounter at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates will square off in an Absa Premiership encounter at Bidvest Stadium

The Clever Boys are coming off a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns in the top of the league table clash at home on Monday.

Ben Motshwari’s first-half goal helped Wits secure their second consecutive victory in the league. They have lost once in their last eight league matches.

The victory took Wits back to the top of the league log with 51 points from 25 matches. They are only a point ahead of second-placed Sundowns.

Daine Klate and Granwald Scott will miss the clash with Bucs. The two important Wits midfielders will be serving their suspension.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt is expecting a difficult match against Pirates and he’s also worried by the fact the Clever Boys will be without some of their key players.

“It’s going to be tough against Pirates, who have had a couple of days off and will have a fresh team and a new approach,” Hunt said.

“We will have to change the team because we are not only losing players through injury, but through red cards as well.

“Our squad has also taken strain with all the travelling, playing Caf games.”

Meanwhile, Pirates recorded a hard-fought 2-1 over Chippa United in their previous league game which was played at the Orlando Stadium last weekend.

Thamsanqa Gabuza and Thabo Matlaba scored for Bucs, who are improving. Pirates are undefeated in their last four league games – having drawn two and won two.

The win over Chippa took Pirates to position eight on the league log. They are four points behind seventh-placed Maritzburg United.

The Buccaneers do not have players on the Absa Premiership suspension list ahead of the game and this has boosted coach Kjell Jonevret’s team selection.

With his side set to face Wits and Sundowns (on Sunday) this week, Bucs gaffer Jonevret feels that his team will be the underdogs against the two league title-chasing sides.

“Playing Wits is going to be a test for us,” Jonevret said.

“In our last four matches, we played against sides where everybody expected us to go out there and win. This time it is going to be different.

“We’ll be playing against probably one of the best two teams (Wits and Sundowns) in the league at the moment.”

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