2 July, 2022
Orlando Pirates Under-19 came from a goal down to claim a 3-1 win in their Derby clash against Soweto United Stars Under-19, paving their path to the knockout rounds of the Engen Knockout Challenge early on Saturday morning.
After finishing the previous day’s action with one win and a defeat in their two fixtures, only victory in the Buccaneers’ final Group C game would ensure survival in the main competition, as they squared off against the early pace-setters in their group.
They had an opportunity as early as the second minute, with Banele Matomela providing the first shot at goal as he narrowly missed the target. His effort was quickly followed by one from Tonny Mbunga, who also shot wide as the Bucs youngsters asserted themselves on their fellow Sowetans in the early exchanges.
Stars grew into the game halfway through the opening half, drawing a save from Pirates keeper Jayden van der Walt after causing problems with some quick interplay down the left flank.
Opportunities continued to fall to Pirates with Mohau Nkota grazing the upright with his effort from a set-piece before getting even closer to opening the scoring by forcing a save from the keeper in open play.
The breakthrough came against the run of play as Stars stretched the Bucs defence, eventually taking the lead through an easy tap-in.
With their chances of making it to the playoffs hanging by a thread, Pirates hit back just moments later, with Mehluleli Maphumulo grabbing his third goal of the tournament after muscling his way down the middle of the park before producing a calm finish.
A tense finish to the first half ensued, as Stars peppered the Bucs goal with shots only to fail to breach Van der Walt’s defences.
The Buccaneers had a dream start to the second half, as Maphumulo took his tally for the tournament to four goals in completing his brace, handing his side the lead for the first time in the game.
They stretched their lead even further just three minutes later, as Samukele Kabini nodded in from a set-piece to make it 3-1.
Pirates controlled matters for the remainder of the game, and could have grabbed their fourth goal of the morning through Phenyo Choshane, whose powerfully-struck effort drew a save from the keeper.
The whistle sounded at 3-1, and it was enough for the Buccaneers to finish top of Group C through a superior goal-difference, setting up a quarter-final clash against the School of Excellence.
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