Ten-Man Bucs Defeated in Polokwane

Orlando Pirates suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to Sekhukhune United after finishing the game with 10 men on their return to DStv Premiership encounter at the new Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Tuesday night.

Sporting a 100% win record against the home side heading into the fixture, the Buccaneers were looking to keep more of the same in their first league fixture in a little under a month, while the hosts sought to escape the relegation zone after managing just one victory in their eight matches.

While the two sides began the encounter on opposite ends of the league table, things were more evenly-poised out in the middle, with both sets of players giving as much as they received in the opening exchanges.

There was not much for Jose Riveiro’s troops to shout about in terms of clear-cut opportunities in the first 10 minutes, with an ambitious shot from defender Tapelo Xoki missing the target by some distance in the fourth minute, while striker Zakhele Lepasa also director his header from inside the box well off target after being located by Paseka Mako just three minutes later.

Bucs showed more confidence in moving the ball from their half to opposition territory, but weren’t able to make real headway into the attacking third when it mattered, while Babina Noko managed to make more of their forays into the visitors’ half by resorting to long-range shots in the face of some resolute defence.

The best of the hosts’ first-half chances came from the boot of ex-Pirates midfielder Linda Mntambo, who drew an excellent save from Richard Ofori at the half-hour mark, forcing him to dive to his right and tip the ball over the crossbar.

The Bucs shot-stopper was kept busy with another threatening shot heading his way just a minute later, this time from defender Daniel Cardoso, whose volleyed effort from range required less lateral movement from the Ghanaian, who made a relatively comfortable save.

It would take the visitors until late in the first period as Thabiso Monyane’s header from just inside the box failed to trouble Sekhukhune keeper Badra Ali Sangare, while Kabelo Dlamini’s effort from a little further out did not trouble the Ivorian.

It was the Soweto Giants who displayed more attacking intent after emerging from the tunnel, with captain Innocent Maela overlapping down the left before his shot was kept out by a timely block from Edwin Gymah early in the second half. 

Their plans to grab the game by the scruff of neck was derailed when they were reduced to ten men in the 58th minute after Monyane collected two yellow cards in quick succession, forcing the technical team to make wholesale changes.

The forced substitutions promised to yield some results with Deon Hotto and Kermit Erasmus – both introduced just after the hour mark – combined twice within minutes of being brought on with the second of the two chances almost edging Pirates ahead after the striker managed to unleash a shot which went just inches over the crossbar.

The Namibian then had an opportunity of his own nine-minutes from time when he drew a save from Sangare after being released by Pule.

Sekhukhune had opportunities of their own at the other end, and their efforts were rewarded in the 84th minute when Elias Mokwana cut in from the right before placing the ball out of Ofori’s reach with a well-taken shot.

The hosts would double the lead in injury time after miscommunication between Miguel Timm and the Bucs shot-stopper resulted in the latter scrambling to retain possession, only for Vusumuzi Mncube to pounce on the opportunity and send the ball into the back of the net.

With not much time remaining, there was no way back for the Buccaneers whose efforts at pulling one back proved futile, with Sekhukhune clinching their first win over the Soweto Giants.

Pirates XI: Ofori, Xoki, Sibisi, Maela (Saleng 86’), Mosele,Timm, Monyane, Mako (Shandu 64’), Ndlondlo (Hotto 64’), Lepasa (Erasmus 64’), Dlamini (Pule 64’).

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