6 May, 2023
Orlando Pirates have secured a spot in the Nedbank Cup final, following their 2-1 win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs in their semifinal clash at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Ahead of what turned out to be a prolonged Soweto Derby encounter which needed an additional 30 minutes to determine a winner, the Buccaneers sought to make their second cup final in the ongoing season, having secured the MTN 8 title earlier in the campaign.
They had their work cut out for them against a Chiefs side that had completed a league double in the derby, looking to make it a hat-trick of wins in the iconic fixture.
It was Amakhosi who had the first of the early chances on Saturday when an unmarked Christian Saile spurned a gilt-etched opportunity just 12 minutes after kick-off by missing the ball completely after getting on the end of a cross from Ashley Du Preez.
The hosts were left to regret that miss two minutes later when a defence-splitting pass from Miguel Timm found Monnapule Saleng, whose ball into the middle was parried by goalkeeper Brandon Peterson into the path of Kermit Erasmus, who only had an empty net to shoot into as the Buccaneers made the breakthrough.
Chiefs went about restoring parity immediately and fell just inches away from drawing level as midfielder Yusuf Maart’s well-struck shot from range fizzed past the upright.
That signalled a swing in momentum, with Pirates required to defend for a huge chunk of the opening 45 minutes.
They were let off the hook twice in the last 10 minutes before the break, first from a skied shot off the boot of Siyabonga Ngezane who had remained in an advanced position following a succession of set pieces enjoyed by Amakhosi, before Saile went wide with a diving header from point-blank range.
The Buccaneers came out swinging in the second half, and could only manage to produce half chances through Terrence Dzvukamanja and Erasmus, who both pulled their shots wide after shooting from a fair distance out shortly after the break.
The target remained elusive for the visitors, as Deon Hotto snapped wide when he got on the end of a swift move up field before Chiefs looked to seize the initiative, with Chaine called upon to deny Siyethemba Sithebe.
Just as they did towards the end of the first half, the hosts maintained the pressure on the Buccaneers and were rewarded just 11 minutes from the final whistle this time around, as Maart turned the ball into the net after being played in by Dillan Solomons on the right wing.
Second-half sub Makhehleni Makhaula looked to restore Pirates’ lead with a shot from range in the 85th minute but was denied by a diving Peterson, who went to his left to make a save.
Regulation time ended with the teams deadlocked, meaning another spell of extra time for the visitors, who had gone through two marathon encounters in the lead up to the semis.
The first period of extra time went by largely incident-free, bar for a couple chances from Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo and Tapelo Xoki, with neither player getting close to the target.
Pirates looked more determined in the final 15 minutes, as they spent a considerable amount of time deep inside Chiefs territory.
The pressure told on the hosts with just six minutes remaining when they managed to clear from a corner kick before Ndlondlo collected the loose ball to send an inch-perfect cross into the box, where Sandile Mthethwa lept high to head in to make it 2-1.
All that was left was for the Buccaneers to defend their lead, and they stood up firm to everything thrown at them to secure their berth in the Nedbank Cup final, where they await the winner of the second semifinal between Stellenbosch and Sekhukhune United.
Pirates XI: Chaine, Sibisi, Xoki, Shandu (Hotto 45’), Mako (Monyane 110’), Timm, Monare (Makhaula 82’), Dlamini (Mthethwa 82’), Saleng, Dzvukamanja (Eva Nga 82’), Erasmus (Ndlondlo 58’).
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