Pirates Crush Crystal Lake to Advance in the Nedbank Cup

Orlando Pirates began their Nedbank Cup title defence emphatically as they claimed a resounding 6-0 victory over Crystal Lake at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

The Buccaneers were drawn against the Bushbuckridge outfit competing in the fourth tier of South African football, who were aiming to cause the biggest upset of this year’s edition of the prestigious competition.

It did not take very long before the gulf between the two teams became apparent, as barely four minutes elapsed before the breakthrough. This was provided by defender Olisa Ndah, who was in the right place at the right time to turn the ball into the net from close range following the game’s first corner.

The defending champions were soon 2-0 up, following a foul on striker Evidence Makgopa inside the box which resulted in a penalty converted by defender Tapelo Xoki, who calmly sent goalkeeper Excellent Mkhonto the wrong way.

It remained one-way traffic with the Soweto Giants bagging their third just 11 minutes in through Relebohile Mofokeng, who fired in from a tight angle along the left flank after showing great skill to shake off his marker to allow himself space to shoot.

The goals dried up midway through the first half, but it was not through lack of chances as the visitors continued to dominate proceedings.

Karim Kimvuidi fired wide from outside the box, followed by a similar effort from Mofokeng, before Makgopa headed over the crossbar after connecting with an excellent ball from the right flank.

Captain Innocent Maela was next to let off a shot from range, going just inches off target just before the hosts survived a goalmouth scramble that nearly allowed Xoki in for his second of the afternoon.

The relatively long wait for the fourth goal came to an end just after the hour mark when Patrick Maswanganyi sparked off an attack on the left-hand side of the field, linking up with Mofokeng who later located him inside the box where he volleyed into the back of the net.

Despite creating considerable daylight between themselves and the hosts, Pirates remained the more dominant side as they created more chances. The best of those came through Maela, who pushed his shot just centimetres off the target as he sent a firmly-struck shot toward goal.

The second half continued in the same vein, with the Buccaneers camping inside their opponents’ half.

Maswanganyi nearly bagged his side’s fifth as he got on the end of an excellent cross from Thabiso Lebitso, only to be denied by replacement keeper Busani Mabunda.

That fifth goal did not remain elusive for long, with Xoki completing his brace in the 51st minute when he lept high from a corner to flick the ball into the net.

With more than enough time to extend their lead further, Pirates continued their aggressive approach as second-half subs Lesedi Kapinga and Vincent Pule each had chances to put their names on the scoreboard, with neither finding the target. This trend was bucked by another replacement in Tshegofatso Mabasa, who reintroduced himself to the Bucs faithful in spectacular fashion in the 79th minute when he headed in at the near post after yet another Pirates corner.

A rare chance presented itself at the other end, as the hosts stretched the Buccaneers’ defence before goalkeeper Sipho Chaine pulled off a superb save to deny Halalisani Nkuna from point-blank range.

That proved to be the minnows’ only chance of the afternoon, as the Buccaneers completed a crushing victory to cruise to the Last 16 of the Nedbank Cup.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Ndah, Xoki, Maela, Makhaula (Monare 74’), Mbatha, Monyane (Lebitso 46’), Kimvuidi (Pule 62’), Maswanganyi, Mofokeng (Kapinga 62’), Makgopa (Mabasa 62’).

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