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Mabalane: Pirates playing mind games

Former Orlando Pirates winger Dikgang Mabalane has claimed his old club is trying to take pressure off the squad by playing down their title ambitions.

The Buccaneers trail Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by just one point, but players and coach alike have repeatedly played down their chances and aspirations of finishing first. According to Mabalane, who won the league title himself as a Pirates player, this is no coincidence.

“You know those are mind games. They just don’t want the pressure to be on the players. I have played the game before and we’ve had coaches, especially when you are close to getting the prize, saying they are not title favourites because they don’t want the pressure to be on the team,” Mabalane said, according to Kick Off.

“It’s just a tactic to handle the pressure from media and everyone else and to deflect pressure to Sundowns. They are challenging for the title and the pressure is on whether they like it or not. The fact is the pressure is on and they know that they have a chance of challenging for the league.”

Sundowns have the upper hand in the title race, as they have seven games left to play, while Pirates have six. Nevertheless, Milutin Sredojevic's side has exceeded expectations this season, improving steadily throughout. They have long surpassed their points total of 33 from the disastrous 2016/17 campaign.

Pirates will return to action when they host Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium on 4 April.