Bucs look for double celebration

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The Buccaneers, who are using the match as part of their official 70th anniversary celebrations and will be wearing a new kit, have begun the second half of the 2007/08 season in fine form, defeating Soweto rivals Moroka Swallows 3-0 just under a week ago and following that up with a 2-0 win over high-flying BidVest Wits on Saturday evening.

But Owen Da Gama’s team will now face a stiff test of their credentials from the defending champions.

Sundowns defeated AmaZulu in the first league match of 2008 last Monday and then followed that up with a 1-0 away win against Zanzibar's Miembeni in their MTN CAF Champions League first round, first leg tie on Friday.

The rigours of traveling may be a worry for Brazilians’ coach Gordon Igesund but he will be happy with the return to goal scoring form of Surprise Moriri, who netted the winner against Miembeni.

Moriri will be key to Sundowns’ hopes of claiming a third straight championship and his battle with red hot Pirates playmaker Teko Modise could make for thrilling football.

It was around this time last year that Sundowns set off on their remarkable winning streak that all but handed them the title - a defeat of Pirates would spark hopes of a repeat performance in this campaign.

Statistics point to the visitors from Pretoria having the advantage, with the Brazilians having a better head-to-head record (played 46, won 21, drawn 12, lost 13) in league meetings with Pirates since 1985.

One also has to look back to the first half of the 2004/05 season to find the last time Pirates beat Sundowns in a league match, so the Buccaneers will need to break a six-match winless streak against their rivals in order to claim all three points in this encounter.

Pirates:Date Opponent H/A Result16/02/08 BidVest Wits H W 2-013/02/08 Moroka Swallows A W 3-023/12/07 AmaZulu A L 0-115/12/07 Free State Stars H D 1-112/12/07 Platinum Stars A D 1-1

Sundowns:11/02/08 AmaZulu A W 2-122/12/07 Free State Stars A W 1-019/12/07 Platinum Stars H L 1-212/12/07 Ajax Cape Town A D 1-108/12/07 SuperSport United H L 2-3

HEAD-TO-HEAD STATS:League meetings since 1996/97

1996/97Pirates 0 Sundowns 0Sundowns 1 (Chukwu) Pirates 0

1997/98Pirates 1 (Sebola) Sundowns 2 (Ramasike, Niemach)Sundowns 1 (Bapela) Pirates 1 (Raphahlela)

1998/99Pirates 1 (Lekoelea) Sundowns 2 (Mohlala, Mudau)Sundowns 1 (Mudau) Pirates 2 (Ngake, Sebola)

1999/2000Sundowns 3 (Amougou 2, Mudau) Pirates 3 (Mkhize, Ngake, Mngomeni)Pirates 0 Sundowns 3 (Mudau 2, Mbhele)

2000/01Pirates 1 (Silent) Sundowns 2 (Feutmba, Chukwu)Sundowns 0 Pirates 0

2001/02Pirates 0 Sundowns 3 (Mudau, Scott 2)Sundowns 3 (Mudau 2, Kampamba) Pirates 1 (Manyathela)

2002/03Pirates 2 (Vilakazi, Manyathela) Sundowns 0Sundowns 0 Pirates 0

2003/04Pirates 2 (Makhanya, Tshabalala) Sundowns 1 (Sapula)Sundowns 1 (P. Thwala) Sundowns 0

2004/05Sundowns 1 (Winstanley) Pirates 2 (Manenzhe, Dinha)Pirates 0 Sundowns 4 (Tiene, Moriri 2, Sapula)

2005/06Pirates 1 (Lelo-Mbele) Sundowns 1 (Sapula)Sundowns 0 Pirates 0

2006/07Sundowns 2 (Chabangu, Moriri (pen)) Pirates 1 (Ramudzuli)Pirates 1 (Lekgwathi) Sundowns 2 (Apataki, Mhlongo)

2007/08Sundowns 2 (Nyandoro, Mhlongo) Pirates 1 (Thwala)