13 May, 2023
Orlando Pirates were held to a 1-1 draw in their DStv Premiership clash against Sekhukhune United at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
It was a second consecutive stalemate in the league for the home side in a game who got to run out against their Nedbank Cup final opponents a week after both sides had secured their spots in the last two of the tournament.
The hosts enjoyed dominance in both possession and territory as soon as the game got underway, but were unable to make that translate into an advantage on the scoresheet, with the visitors limiting goal-scoring opportunities inside their half.
Monnapule Saleng went for goal as early as the third minute when his shot from just outside the penalty area failed to curl into the far corner.
They were made to wait until well inside the opening half for another real chance, which fell for midfielder Thabang Monare, who connected with a Kabelo Dlamini corner but only succeeded in heading off target.
Pirates kept toiling inside the Sekhukhune half, and were rewarded in the 31st minute when Terrence Dzvukamanja found the breakthrough with a diving header after peeling away from the defence to meet a well-weighted cross from Saleng.
The lead only lasted a handful of minutes however, as failure to clear from a set piece allowed ex-Bucs defender Edwin Gyimah to head in from close range and bring things back to a state of balance.
The home side tried to restore their lead just before the break, with Kermit Erasmus’ shot from range directed out of play after catching a deflection inside a congested penalty area.
It took a while for the Buccaneers to launch any notable attack in the second half, bar for a half opportunity which fell in the direction of Saleng, who could not make a connection with a good ball from the left delivered by Dlamini.
They did come close to pulling ahead twice over a short period just after the hour mark when Erasmus’ shot from close range was blocked by Ali Sangare, who dived to his left to keep out the goalbound effort before making a more comfortable save soon after to deny Dzvukamanja.
The latter part of the contest was characterised by more Bucs dominance, as all 10 outfield players spent a considerable amount of time inside the opposition half.
This almost paid off rather spectacularly in the 76th minute when Dzvukamanja found himself with his back towards goal as he collected the ball from the left which he teed up for an overhead kick, missing the target by centimetres as he struck the upright.
The hosts continued to throw everything at the visitors, who stood resolute in defence to force a share of the spoils, setting up a must-win encounter for Pirates against AmaZulu in the final round of league fixtures as they look to secure participation in next season’s CAF Champions League.
Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki, Mthethwa, Mako , Hotto (Monyane 68’), Makhaula, Monare (Ndlondlo 68’), Dlamini (Makaringe 68’), Saleng, Dzvukamanja, Erasmus (Makgopa 82’)
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