Buccaneer muscle puts paid to Ajax Cape Town
● Injury-hit Orlando Pirates muscled Ajax Cape Town out of the game at Orlando Stadium for last night’s 2-0 Nedbank Cup last-32 victory.
Bernard Morrison got a rare start and rewarded Bucs with a performance capped by 43rd and 48th-minute strikes. The Ghanaian, signed with high expectation a season-and-a-half ago, took advantage of injuries to perhaps earn more recognition going forward.
On a muggy evening and surface made soggy by a pre-match storm, Pirates, forced into six changes, started slowly but gained confidence to exact revenge for a 3-0 shock in Cape Town 10 days ago.
A few players — notably Issa Sarr and Thembinkosi Lorch — stepped up for Bucs.
Musa Nyatama’s suspension and Abbubaker Mobara’s injury were known in the week. Of some doubtful starters — Thabiso Kutumela, Mpho Makola and Luvuyo Memela — only the last of those made it, and then only onto the bench.
Goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane pulled up with a groin injury, and Siyabonga Mpontshane started.
Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral has had his share of absentees too — notably Mosa Lebusa and Yannick Zakri — and made three changes from his team’s 1-1 league away draw against Polokwane City on Sunday. One was Siboniso Gaxa making a debut at right-back.
Coach Milutin Sredojevic kept the 3-43 formation that had won 2-1 against Maritzburg United here.
But the enforced changes — Diamond Thopola and Phetso Maphanga came in impressively at wingback, and Sarr resurfaced in central midfield — disrupted a rhythm his side had been nurturing.
And Pirates were up against an Ajax who, unlike in Cape Town, had come to sit deep and soak, and catch Bucs on the counter.
So it was not surprising that Pirates enjoyed possession in the first half but struggled to break through.
Early on Jody February had to save at the feet of Morrison from a Sarr pass.
Tendai Ndoro, the figure of protests (one by Pirates) and boardroom decisions and appeals on eligibility, was Ajax’s danger man when they went forward. He hit a volley from the edge of the box, from Fagrie Lakay’s chip, hard but high.
Bucs broke through before half time with a slick goal. Thembinkosi Lorch’s sidefoot put Justin Shonga through on the left to square sharply. Morrison’s finish was clean and crisp.
The restructured Bucs had found their stride and Lorch and Morrison combined for the second just back from the restart.
Lorch laid on another killer pass, and Morrison beautifully held off Mario Booysen and produced a burst of pace, then struck cleanly again past February.
But it was Pirates’ young substitute Lyle Foster, then Lorch, who came closest to adding to the score.
First-half goals by winger Kobamelo Kodisang and striker Eleazar Rodgers saw Bidvest Wits take a 2-0 lead over Mauritian outfit Pamplemousses to the second leg of the CAF Champions League preliminary round.