Five-Star Bucs Cruise Past Sekhukhune into MTN8 Semis

Orlando Pirates turned in a superb performance to kick off the defence of their MTN8 title, as they crushed Sekhukhune United with a 5-0 scoreline in their quarterfinal clash at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

With no changes made to the lineup that collected all three points at the same venue in a midweek league fixture, the mission for the hosts this time around was to extend their reign as champions by securing their spot in the last four.

The two sides began rather tentatively, with not much to shout about at both ends in the opening exchanges as they weighed each other up.

The Orlando Stadium crowd got its first real bit of excitement in the 14th minute, thanks to an aggressive press from the home side, when Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo turned over possession deep inside Babina Noko’s half before Zakhele Lepasa followed up with an attempt at goal which was met by a timely block.

It only took a further eight minutes for the Bucs faithful to get on their feet as Patrick Maswanganyi got on the edge of a superb chip from Relebohile Mofokeng before muscling his way into space on the right and cutting back towards Lepasa, who needed a single touch to open the scoring.

There was some defensive work required off Pirates as the halftime whistle approached, with Nkosinathi Sibisi making a vital interception in the 38th minute to cut out a dangerous-looking ball from deep.

It was however the hosts who finished the first period on the ascendancy through Lepasa, who struck the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds, followed by another attempt from Mofokeng, which drew a brilliant save from Sekhukhune keeper Badra Sangare.

That was merely a hint at what was to come in what turned out to be an all-action second half, starting at Pirates’ end of the field where Paseka Mako was penalised for a foul inside the box, resulting in a spot kick for the visitors 54 minutes in.

The Buccaneers were however able to hang on to their slim lead as striker Chibuike Ohizu sent Sipho Chaine the wrong way, only to strike the upright with his penalty kick.

Sekhukhune were made to rue the missed opportunity immediately, with Thabang Monare sparking a move from the middle of the park before teeing up Saleng, whose shot rebounded off the upright and was turned into the net by Lepasa for his second of the night.

This was only the beginning of a flurry of goals in the second period as Ndlondlo joined in shortly by finishing off a move he started off to give the hosts a 3-0 lead just before the hour mark.

Pirates’ fourth came in the 62nd minute through the boot of Saleng, who tapped in on his second attempt from close range after the Sekhukhune defence was stretched once more.

Mofokeng conjured up an opportunity of his own as the clock wound down with a shot from outside the box, which was directed straight at Sangare, just before Deon Hotto was fouled inside the box just seconds after coming on.

Eyeing a hat-trick, Lepasa stepped up to take the penalty, but could not convert from the spot as he fired well wide.

The Sekhukhune shot stopper was drawn into once more save inside the final 10 minutes, keeping out an excellent shot from range coming off the boot of the impressive Mofokeng.

He however had no answer for the hosts’ next attack as Hotto combined with Lepasa, with the Bucs number nine completing his hat-trick by turning the ball in from close range after running into an excellent ball from the right delivered by the Namibian international.

That capped off a clinical performance from the Buccaneers, who marched into the last four of the competition.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki (Maela 90’), Sibisi, Monyane (Shandu 90’), Mako, Monare (Makhaula 76’), Ndlondlo (Makaringe 68’), Saleng (Hotto 76), Mofokeng, Maswanganyi, Lepasa.

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