Orlando Pirates had a choice to make whether to use a back three (and therefore a 3-4-2-1 formation) or a back four and go with a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 set-up. In the end, they went for a 4-23-1 shape, surprising Kaizer Chiefs by using both Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga from the start, as well as two attacking midfielders in Vincent Pule and Thembinkosi Lorch, who have both excelled this campaign. In goal, Siyabonga Mpontshane returned in preference to Jackson Mabokgwane, with Abbubaker Mobara again at right back. The surprise in defence was that Marshall Munetsi was recalled and young Brazilian Caio Marcelo was only a substitute. Pirates had not kept back-to-back clean sheets in almost a year and, without Ntsikelelo Nyauza, this was definitiely an area of concern. In midfield, Ben Motshwari was preferred to Musa Nyatama, who has had injury problems so far to this campaign. To accommodate four attacking players, Lorch was used as a number 10 to press Willard Katsande in possession, with Mulenga on the right flank and Pule wide on the left, at the start.
On Chiefs’ side, all three of the doubtful players in Leonardo Castro, Dumisani Zuma and Khama Billiat started the game. This was immediately seen as something of a risk as all them were likely to tire out around the 70-minute mark. As Amakhosi have done practically all season, it was a 4-4-2 shape with Billiat as a genuine striker, with no defending asked of him. On the opposite flank to Zuma was Bernard Parker, who has been in good form but would have to play wider than he prefers. In defence, there was a surprise as Mario Booysen got the nod ahead of Daniel Cardoso. Chiefs had Katsande and Siphelele Ntshangase as a midfield two, a possible question mark for the side against Bucs’ threat between the lines and in the half-spaces.