Orlando Pirates Team,  February 2020BackpagePix

COMMENT: Will Orlando Pirates clinch PSL top three finish?

The race for top three has gone down to the wire in the 2019/20 Premier Soccer League (PSL). 

Three teams are vying for the third spot with Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns having secured the top two places on the league standings and qualified for the 2020/21 Caf Champions League.

Orlando Pirates along with Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United are all hoping to finish third and secure a place in next season's Caf Confederation Cup. 

SuperSport currently hold the advantage as they are in position three on the log - a point above fourth-placed Pirates and fifth-placed Wits heading into Saturday's final round of the current campaign.

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Pirates' fate is out of their hands as they look to return to the Confederation Cup for the first time since 2015 when they were narrowly defeated by Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel in the final.

Augustine Mulenga of Orlando Pirates is challenged by Kristopher Bergman of Stellenbosch FC, October 2019

The Buccaneers are set to wrap up their campaign with a clash with an in-form Stellenbosch side at the 2010 Fifa World Cup quarter-final venue Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. 

The Western Cape side won't be a walk in the park for Bucs as Steve Barker's side is amongst the three teams which are undefeated in the bio-bubble alongside Highlands Park and Bloemfontein Celtic. 

Stellies, who are harbouring hopes of finishing in the top eight, are undefeated in their last five matches including a draw with league log leaders Chiefs. 

It will be a revenge mission for Pirates as they succumbed to a surprise 1-0 defeat to the PSL debutants in the first round match in the Mother City in October 2019 with Bucs struggling under Rhulani Mokwena.

So much has changed since then as Josef Zinnbauer replaced Mokwena two months later and the German coach stabilized the Bucs ship and the team has overcome their recent struggles having won their last two games.

The Soweto giants will look to take advantage of Stellenbosch's leaky defence having failed to keep a clean sheet in their last three matches.

Josef Zinnbauer coach of Orlando Pirates, December 2019BackpagePix

Zinnbuer's attackers have stepped up in recent weeks with Lerato Lepasa and Frank Mhango having netted winning goals, against SuperSport and Maritzburg United, respectively.

While Wayne Sandilands has been in good form lately as he followed up his man of the match performance against SuperSport with a clean sheet in the victory over Maritzburg.

Thembinkosi Lorch has slowly regained his form having registered two assists in his last three matches and the highly-rated attacker has the ability to single-handedly inspire Bucs to a win over Stellenbosch.

However, defeating Stellies won't guarantee Pirates a third-place finish as they need a favour from Cape Town City, who are set to square off with SuperSport at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

The Citizens are undefeated in their last seven competitive matches against Matsatsantsa and the Buccaneers will be hoping that the Western Cape side continue their dominance over the Tshwane giants.

Sipho Mbule of Supersport United challenged by Mpho Makola of Cape Town City, September 2019 City will go all out for a win in order to secure a top-eight finish with a victory over SuperSport, who will be missing their key midfielder Aubrey Modiba.

So, Jan Olde Riekerink's side is heading into this clash as the favourites and they have the quality to overcome Matsatsantsa with Kermit Erasmus and Bradley Ralani in top form at the moment.

Pirates hold a superior goal difference (one goal) over Wits with the Clever Boys scheduled to take on relegation-threatened Polokwane City at FNB Stadium in Nasrec, Johannesburg.

Wits are the lowest-scoring team (30 goals from 29 matches) amongst the top six sides, having scored just twice in their last four games and they also failed to find the back of the net in their midweek defeat to Leopards. 

However, it will be vital for Pirates to score goals and keep it tight at the back as they defeat Stellies, while hoping that Cape Town City hold SuperSport to a draw or secure a win over Kaitano Tembo's side.

One clear thing is that Pirates cannot afford to draw as free-scoring SuperSport have a +eight better goal difference over them which makes their clash with Stellenbosch as a must-win match.