Bucs Hold Nerve in Shootout Advance to the Semis

Orlando Pirates showed nerves of steel in the penalty shootout as they beat Dondol Stars to book a spot in the Nedbank Cup semifinals. 

A tensely-contested quarterfinal clash had ended deadlocked at 1-1 with no separating the two sides after 120 minutes of play.

Not looking to become the third top tier side to be eliminated from the competition by the ABC Motsepe League outfit, the Buccaneers sought to assert their dominance from the first whistle, keeping the hosts inside their half for the opening five minutes. However, they were not allowed a shot at goal as Dondol kept a solid defensive line.

Bucs shot-stopper Sipho Chaine was the first keeper to be called upon 11 minutes in when he cut out a threatening cross from right flank as the hosts launched a quick counter. 

Midfielder Kabelo Dlamini let out the visitors’ first real shot in anger three minutes later as he went for goal from a long way out, only succeeding in landing the ball on the roof of the net.

The rest of the first period was dominated by an intense midfield battle with restricted entry into the attacking third at both ends.

This prompted some adventure from Pirates midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch, as he went for goal from the halfway line after spotting Dondol goalkeeper Siphamandla Gumede off his line two minutes from the break. His shot however curled wide of the target, as the two sides headed into the tunnel still deadlocked.

The second period was a contrast of the first as the Buccaneers showed more enterprise in searching for the breakthrough.

That came in the 55th minute when halftime substitute Kermit Erasmus drew the defence’s attention towards him before laying the ball for Lorch, who had enough time and space to compose himself before blasting past Gumede to make it 1-0.

Pirates lead only lasted two minutes as the hosts hit back through Tebogo Makungo, who breached Chaine’s defences to draw his side level.

Thabang Monare had an opportunity to head in from a set piece, but could not turn the ball into the net. 

This was before Lorch was afforded an opportunity to double his tally nine-minutes from full-time, only to miscue his shot from close range.

Having each endured a marathon contest in the Round of 16, it was déjà vu for both sides as the game headed into extra time.

The extra half-hour could have begun perfectly for the visitors with Bandile Shandu aiming for the top corner with a fine curling shot from range, but Gumede was equal to the task as he pulled out a spectacular save.

Defenders Tapelo Xoki and Nkosinathi Sibisi each had a close call in front of goal, with neither managing to find the target from close range.

With the clock winding down, Chaine pulled off an incredible save of his own, tracking back to his line to tip over a goal bound shot from Makungo.

It was then up to the shootout to decide the contest, and the two sides traded accurate kicks with Deon Hotto, Sibisi, Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo and Dlamini all converting for the Buccaneers, in response to goals from Dondol’s Kholofelo Monama, Francious Baloyi, Kamogelo Sambo and Thabang Mnyembane.

As it appeared as if the shootout would head into Sudden Death, a poorly-taken penalty from Whitehead Nameka allowed Chaine to make a comfortable save before Sandile Mthethwa stepped up to take the decisive spot-kick, which he coolly slotted home to book Pirates’ place in the semifinals.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki (Mthethwa 114’), Sibisi, Mako, Maela (Shandu 75’), Timm (Ndlondlo 119’), Monare (Makaringe 75’), Saleng, Dlamini, Lorch, Dzvukamanja (Erasmus 46’). 

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