18 March, 2023
The opening day of the 2023 Pirates Cup produced plenty of excitement with some of the country’s young football talent delivering the goods on an action-packed day at Marks Park and Wits Sturrock Park.
A total of 44 men’s sides and eight women’s teams are taking part in this year’s competition, and the 24 teams drawn in Group A to F in the men’s section of the tournament were first on display when things got underway on Friday.
Hosts Orlando Pirates got their campaign running with narrow victories over The Best Football Academy and Vhembe 5R Cooliozil with both games finishing 1-0.
Surprise Matjeni and Siyabonga Moleane each found the net in the respective fixtures, giving the Buccaneers a vital six points before they rounded off a successful opening day with a 2-0 victory against Ubuntu Sports Development to top Group A and secure a spot in the knockouts.
The results were however not as tight in Group C, where Orbit TVET College netted nine unanswered goals in their opening fixture against Highlands City, then later added another seven across their next two group games to book a place in the next round without seeing their defences breached.
Defending champions Ambassadors overcame Warriors to kick start their title defence on a positive note, and went on to add a further four points to their tally, with three coming from an emphatic 6-0 win over Young Boys to finish top of Group B.
There was some individual excellence witnessed on the opening day, with Wits’ Esisombe Mmassa netting the first hat-trick in this year’s competition as he helped his side to a 5-0 win over Euphoria United, and his feat was bettered by East Rand Excellent Academy’s Siyabonga Ngoma, who scored four goals in a 7-2 victory over Black Eagles.
The action continues on Sunday, with teams in Group G to K set to take to the field, while the women’s competition is also scheduled to kick off on the same day.
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