It was not so much the fact that Bucs lost to Bloemfontein Celtic in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday, but the manner of the defeat which has left players and fans stunned.
Leading 3-1 with just a few minutes remaining on the clock, they allowed Celtic to score twice and take the game to extra-time and penalties. It was a dramatic collapse and one not associated with the Pirates side of the last few seasons.
But they have an almost immediate chance for redemption when they face Sundowns, a side who have shown improved form in recent weeks without playing to their full potential.
Three points are a must if Bucs are to keep pace with Kaizer Chiefs at the top of the table. AmaKhosi have now opened up a seven-point lead over their great Soweto rivals. It is something coach Roger de Sa is well aware of.
He says his team needs to be more clinical in front of goal and bury the many chances they create.
“We cannot carry on like this,” De Sa said. “We missed a lot of chances [against Celtic] and at the end we were punished for our wastefulness in front of goal. Coming into this game against Sundowns we need a change of attitude. Matches are only won after the final whistle and that’s why the players need to play hard until that final whistle.
“This will be a different match and we will try our best to get maximum points - it is never going to be easy for us to try getting full points from a team like Sundowns but I think the guys will be ready to fight - we need the three points and we will fight for it.”
Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens says his side know what to expect from Pirates, it is just about executing on the day.
He says his players should take heart from the improved showing in the 2-0 Telkom Knockout quarterfinal victory over AmaZulu on Saturday.
“There is nothing new about Pirates; we know the way they want to play,” Neeskens said.
"They are definitely a very good team but they have lost some games this season and they drew against AmaZulu [in their last League match]. I hope this win will give my players a lot of confidence to face Pirates," Neeskens said.
|DID YOU KNOW|
- After eight games last season, Orlando Pirates had 11 points and went on to win the league. This season they have amassed 14.
In head-to-head stats, Sundowns and Pirates have met in 55 league matches since 1985. The Brazilians have 23 wins compared to 16 for Bucs, while 16 matches have been drawn.
Sundowns have a solid home record against Pirates, recording 12 wins (and suffering just six defeats) from 28 matches.
Sundowns have made their worst-ever start to a PSL season with just five points from their opening eight matches.
- Sundowns skipper Teko Modise will come up against his former side in Pirates.