4 February, 2023
Orlando Pirates fell on the wrong side of a 1-0 result in their DStv Premiership clash against Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Having won their last three league games, the Buccaneers had the steep task of stopping a Sundowns side on a record run of 14 straight wins in the highly-anticipated encounter played in Soweto.
The visitors signalled their intentions early as they enjoyed a lengthy spell inside the Buccaneers’ half of the field.
It proved to be a fruitful strategy six minutes in when a wayward pass from Nkosinathi Sibisi resulted in a turnover of possession deep inside Pirates territory, leading to the game’s opening goal from the boot of Cassius Mailula.
The hosts’ first chance at goal came three minutes later, and it was through the head of a man in yellow in Thapelo Morena, who almost turned Monnapule Saleng’s ball towards the penalty area into his own net. However, his header was palmed away by goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
It took Pirates a while to find their feet in the contest with Kermit Erasmus getting close in the 21st minute, four minutes before Goodman Mosele’s looping header from a set piece landed on the outer roof of the net.
The lead afforded the Brazilians the luxury of sitting back and absorbing the pressure, with the Soweto Giants unable to find a way into the attacking third in the face of an organised defensive unit.
A bit more urgency was evident from the hosts at the start of the second half with Williams called upon in the 51st minute when Saleng threatened the Sundowns goal with an in-swinging corner. This was followed by another opportunity a minute later, this time from Tapelo Xoki, whose header from a corner rolled just wide of the target.
Pirates’ best chance came in the 59th minute through second-half substitute Vincent Pule, who rattled the upright with a shot from close range before Bandile Shandu collected the rebound to draw a save from Williams.
There was action at the other end where Mailula went one-on-one with Chaine, who pulled off an incredible save to preserve his side’s hopes of launching a comeback as the clock wound down.
The closing exchanges belonged to the Buccaneers as they camped deep inside the Tshwane Giants’ territory, winning a succession of set pieces.
Despite valiantly pushing to draw level, the equaliser evaded the home side as they suffered their first home defeat in 2023.
Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki, Sibisi, Shandu (Martin 74’), Maela, Timm (Mabena 74’), Monare, Mosele (Dlamini 55’), Saleng, Hotto (Pule 55’), Erasmus (Dzvukamanja 64’).
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