Orlando Pirates will be looking to go one step further in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) this coming season.
The Soweto giants challenged for the league title last season, but they finished as runners-up after Mamelodi Sundowns beat them to the ultimate prize.
The team has been playing friendly games behind closed doors as they prepare for the new campaign.
Pirates have camped in Nelspruit, Cape Town, and Zambia as part of their pre-season preparations.
Goal presents you a guide to Bucs' 2018-19 pre-season and their first PSL match with dates, venues and all you need to know.
Orlando Pirates' 2018-19 pre-season
The Buccaneers began their pre-season preparations by going to Nelspruit where the players were taken through their paces by coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic.
Upon their return to Johannesburg, Pirates travelled to Ndola for the second phase of their preparations. The camp focused on looking into incorporating the physical aspect with the tactical and technical aspects of the game.
Bucs played to a goalless stalemate with DR Congo giants TP Mazembe in a friendly game at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on July 12, before drawing 1-1 with Zambian side Power Dynamos at the Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe on July 15.
The Soweto giants then thumped Ndola Select 4-1 at the same venue. Their last game in Zambia was against Forest Rangers, who are coached by former Pirates midfielder Perry Mutapa, and Sredojevic's side emerged 2-0 winners at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on July 18.
Pirates returned home for their 2017/18 end-of-season awards ceremony which was held in Rivonia, Johannesburg on July 19, before traveling to South Africa's second city, Cape Town.
The 2014 Nedbank champions edged out their PSL rivals Cape Town City FC 2-1 at the Cape Town Stadium Saturday as Bucs maintained their unbeaten record in pre-season.
They ended their trip to the Mother City with a 2-1 victory over National First Division (NFD) side Stellenbosch FC in an encounter which was played at the Idas Valley Sports Ground in the Cape Winelands on Sunday.
Orlando Pirates' 2018-19 transfer activity
Bucs, who are now back in Johannesburg, delved into the transfer market early as they announced the signing of nine new players, before the transfer window opened in July 2018.
Goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo, midfielders Vincent Pule, Ben Motshwari, Meshack Maphangule, Asavela Mbekile, Linda Mntambo, Abel Mabaso, Paseka Mako and Kudakwashe Mahachi were all announced by the club.
Khuzwayo, who joined the Pirates from Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs, is arguably the club’s marquee signing with the team having had goalkeeping problems in previous seasons.
Motshwari and Pule, who helped Bidvest Wits win the 2016/17 PSL title, have strengthened Bucs’ midfield, while Mbekile, Mabaso and Mako are versatile players.
The Houghton-based side could reinforce their defence with the signing of Brazilian defender Caio Marcelo, who has been on trial at the club. The 20-year-old centre-back has reportedly impressed Sredojevic.
Transfer activity in
|FW||Meshack Maphangule||Black Leopards||Free||June 11|
|MF||Kudakwashe Mahachi||Mamelodi Sundowns||Undisclosed||June 11|
|MF||Vincent Pule||Bidvest Wits||Free||June 11|
|MF||Ben Motshwari||Bidvest Wits||Undisclosed||June 11|
|MF||Asavela Mbekile||Mamelodi Sundowns||Free||June 11|
|MF||Linda Mntambo||Chippa United||Undisclosed||June 11|
|DF||Abel Mabaso||Chippa United||Undisclosed||June 11|
|DF||Paseka Mako||Chippa United||Undisclosed||June 11|
|GK||Brilliant Khuzwayo||Kaizer Chiefs||Free||June 11|
Transfer activity out
|MF||Thamsanqa Sangweni||Chippa United||Undisclosed||July 20|
|DF||Ayanda Gcaba||Released||Free||June 11|
|DF||Marc Van Heerden||Released||Free||June 18|
|GK||Brighton Mhlongo||Bidvest Wits||Undisclosed||June 8|
|MF||Issa Sarr||Released||Free||July 22|
|FW||Ayanda Nkosi||Released||Free||July 22|
|FW||Bernard Morrison||Chippa United||Undisclosed||July 20|
|MF||Riyaad Norodien||Released||Undisclosed||June 8|
Orlando Pirates' 2018-19 PSL opening fixture
On Monday, the PSL announced the opening fixtures of the new season with the games scheduled to be played on the weekend of 4-5 August 2018.
However, there's still confusion around the proposed start of the season as Ajax Cape Town and the PSL are at loggerheads in the Tendai Ndoro saga.
As things stand, Pirates will welcome PSL returnees Highlands Park at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday, August 4.
|04/08/2018||20:15||Orlando Pirates v Highlands Park||Orlando Stadium|