12 November, 2022
Orlando Pirates fell on the final hurdle in their bid for Carling Black Label Cup glory, suffering a 4-0 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.
The Buccaneers were one of four teams voted in by fans in the one-off tournament, which took place under wet conditions at FNB Stadium.
After eliminating rivals Kaizer Chiefs in their semifinal, which was decided via a penalty shootout, they were paired up against the Tshwane outfit, who had eased past AmaZulu in the day’s opening fixture.
In a replay of their MTN 8 semifinal tie where the Soweto Giants prevailed with a 3-0 aggregate score, it was the Brazilians who did most of the playing early on, coming close a couple of times through Siphelele Mkhulise and Surprise Ralani. Both players had opportunities in the opening 10 minutes, but neither capitalised.
It only took 21 minutes for the complexion of the game to change, with Tapelo Xoki given his marching orders after a dangerous tackle on Haashim Domingo.
His absence opened up the floodgates with Sundowns taking the lead just two minutes later after stretching the Bucs defence, allowing Mkhulise an easy tap-in on the far post.
While Pirates’ chances of creating any forward momentum were stunted by their numerical disadvantage, they were kept busy at the back and it wasn’t long before Sundowns stretched their lead as Grant Kekana made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute. This was followed by another goal two minutes later, provided by Cassius Mailula.
The rest of the contest featured the Buccaneers chasing the game, but it was their keeper Siyabonga Mpontshane who was the busier between the two men between the posts.
The shot-stopper denied Lesedi Kapinga in the 51st minute, but could not repeat the feat 16 minutes later as Mailula got the better of him with a well-placed shot from long-range which created further daylight between the two sides.
There were opportunities for Pirates to pull one back late in the encounter, with Bandile Shandu and Evidence Makgopa forcing Denis Onyango into action.
It was however not to be the Soweto Giants’ night, as they had to settle for second place in the tournament.
Pirates XI: Mpontshane, Xoki, Mthethwa, Makhubela (Makgopa 86’), Mako, Motshwari, Timm (Monare 46’), Pule (Lepasa 74’), Hotto, Eva Nga (Saleng 56’), Dlamini (Shandu 46’).
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