Bucs U18 Claim Fourth-Place Finish in Engen KO Challenge

Orlando Pirates Under-18 fell short of a podium finish in the 2023 Engen Knockout Challenge, going down 1-0 University of Pretoria in their 3rd-place playoff clash at Marks Park Sports Club on Sunday.

The Bucs youngsters’ hopes of a title had been dashed earlier in the day when they were beaten by Mamelodi Sundowns, who claimed a 1-0 win to progress to the final. 

They squared off against their third Tshwane opponent in as many fixtures, with the consolation of finishing as the competition’s third best outfit up for grabs this time around.

A tranquil start to proceedings was offset by an assured attack from the Soweto Giants 10 minutes after kick off as they surged forward through Zidane Standers, whose shot at goal was blocked by the keeper. 

AmaTuks were able to match their intensity, making their way deep into the Buccaneers’ half, and were immediately rewarded as they stretched the defence before managing to sneak the ball into the back of the net.

Pirates’ attempts at drawing level yielded no results, with the Tshwane outfit content with sitting back and absorbing the pressure for a big chunk of the second half.

A second-half free kick in kickable range offered the Buccaneers a chance to finally breach the Tuks defence, but Tshepo Mhlambi’s curling effort went narrowly wide of the target.

This was followed by two goalward efforts from Aphelele Nzimande who chanced his arm from a fair distance out on both occasions, but without finding the equaliser.

The men from the capital had the opportunity to pull further ahead as the final whistle approached, with the referee spotting a foul in the box and awarding a penalty.

Bucs keeper Khumoetsile Rathokolo was however equal to the task, offering his side a lifeline as he stretched to his left to keep out a well-struck shot.

Pirates resumed their search for the equaliser and dominated the game’s final moments, but were still unable to make it 1-1 as Tuks held on to claim bronze.

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