Feature: Are Orlando Pirates PSL title contenders?

As the 2017/18 season is about to hit the midway point, Goal assesses Orlando Pirates' PSL title credentials

The Buccaneers looked like they were heading for another disappointing season until they secured a hard fought 1-0 victory over a stubborn Bloemfontein Celtic side at the Dr Molemela Stadium over a week ago and the win took them to second spot on the PSL standings.

Prior to the clash with Phunya Sele Sele, Pirates had endured a six-match winless run in the PSL - having recorded two defeats and four draws and some started having doubts about the Soweto giants' league title credentials.

Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic, who was appointed Pirates head coach prior to the current campaign, has managed to stabilize the Bucs ship. The Serbian tactician has been tasked with challenging for major trophies this season.

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Micho, who has won league titles in Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan, is aware of the fact that a soild defence is key to winning titles. The accomphlished coach has been able to work more on Bucs' defensive structure. As a result, Pirates boast one of the stingiest defences in the league at the moment.

PSL log

The four-time PSL champions have conceded eight goals out of 12 matches, having already kept seven clean sheets in the current campaign which is an improvement in comparision to last season.

Bucs kept only six clean sheets out of 30 matches and they had one of the worst defensive records which is the main reason why the team finished outside the top eight in the league for the first time since the inception of the PSL in 1996.

A solid defence will make the Soweto giants genuine league title contenders this season. But they will need a potent attack in order to have an edge in the race for the most coveted trophy in the country.

Just like most PSL teams, Pirates have struggled in front of goal this season and Micho has lamented his players' poor finishing as they have created many chances which they were unable to convert.

Orlando Pirates, Thamsanqa Gabuza

Bucs currently have unproven forwards Justin Shonga, Lyle Foster, Thabiso Kutumela, Ayanda Nkosi and experienced frontman Thamsanqa Gabuza, who remains the team's first choice-striker, in their striking department.

Gabuza has proved to be unreliable and inconsistent. The upcoming January Transfer Window represents a chance for the club to dip into the market and try and sign a proven striker, who can enhance Pirates' chances of mounting a serious challenge for this season's league title.