22 October, 2022
Orlando Pirates have booked their spot in the MTN 8 final with a convincing 3-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns in the second leg of the first semifinal at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.
The victory means that the Soweto Giants are in for their second shot at the title in three years, having last hoisted the coveted trophy in December 2020.
Holding a slight advantage in the tie after denying their opponents a vital away goal at Orlando Stadium, the Buccaneers knew that scoring in Polokwane would place them in the diving seat in the case of a draw on the day.
After withstanding an early storm from the hosts, the visitors pushed ahead with purpose from the right hand side of the field with Thabiso Monyane and Monnapule Saleng heavily involved in the opening exchanges.
It was through some excellent work from the same channel that the Soweto Giants were able to edge ahead as the in-form Saleng got the better of Aubrey Modiba on the flank before finding Kermit Erasmus on the far post, and the Bucs striker headed in from close range to make it 1-0.
That meant that the hosts would have to score at least twice and deny Pirates any further goals to progress beyond the semifinals, and the match situation required a solid defensive effort.
That was provided by the back four, along with the likes of Siyabonga Mpontshane, who was first called upon in the 15th minute to make a save from a Sundowns set piece in the 15th minute.
Monyane continued to be a menace on the right flank, leaving Modiba in his dust just to be denied by Rushine De Reuck, who cut off his supply into the box in the 23rd minute.
It was however the home side that had the better of the closing exchanges in the first half, as they continued to seek the all-too-vital-equaliser, but without finding the decisive touch.
The second half began with the Soweto Giants pegged back inside their own half, with their Tshwane counterpart dominating proceedings.
Miguel Timm and Mpontshane were both required to intervene as Sundowns attacked and both made crucial stops to keep Pirates in the lead.
Much of the second half followed the same pattern, with the visitors feeding on scraps on attack until the closing ten minutes where second-half sub Zakhele Lepasa evaded a tackle on the left flank before playing Saleng in, and the Bucs attacking midfielder calmly slotted in from just inside the penalty area to double the lead.
Saleng was however not done, and made amends for an earlier miss from just seconds before he received the ball inside the box, eliminating one defender ahead of shooting into the far corner to make it 3-0 to the Buccaneers two minutes into injury time.
That was the last decisive moment in what proved to be a top performance from the Buccaneers, providing their ticket into their second MTN 8 final in three years.
Pirates XI: Mpontshane (GK), Ndah, Sibisi, Monyane, Maela (C), Makaringe (59' Mosele), Timm, Saleng, Hotto (Mako 72’), Erasmus (Lepasa 72’), Ndlondlo (59' Motshwari).