Pi­rates save sea­son

Sunday World - - Sport - KHANY­ISO TSH­WAKU

OR­LANDO PI­RATES (0) 3 BID­VEST WITS (1) 1 OR­LANDO Pi­rates re­sponded to their loom­ing em­bar­rass­ment of los­ing four con­sec­u­tive cup fi­nals with their most at­trac­tive and dom­i­nant out­ing of the sea­son, dis­patch­ing a game Bid­vest Wits unit.

It was fit­ting they scored three goals, which marked their three Cup fi­nals losses. Three seems to be a num­ber they love, con­sid­er­ing that they needed three goals to win their first round clash against Thanda Royal Zulu. De­spite con­ced­ing first, they never looked like los­ing.

The red-clad Pi­rates were first to seize the ini­tia­tive through Ker­mit Eras­mus in the first minute, who cut through the Bid­vest Wits de­fence only to see his tame at­tempt eas­ily saved by Moeneeb Josephs. It was the first of four cru­cial mo­ments of weak­ness shown by a for­mi­da­ble Wits back four that was well mar­shalled by Sbon­iso Gumede. While the cen­tre back had a largely ex­cel­lent out­ing, his wing­backs let him down com­pletely later in the game.

Of­fi­ci­at­ing in cup fi­nals will al­ways take cen­tre stage when put into the spot­light; Zo­lile Mthetho ac­quit­ted him­self very well, even though Pi­rates fans would agree to the con­trary. He le­git­i­mately turned down a penalty ap­peal from Pi­rates in the eighth minute when the ball ric­o­cheted from Gumede’s hand in what was a gen­uine ball to hand of­fence.

Later on in the game and de­ci­sively, he al­lowed Wits a cru­cial ad­van­tage af­ter Calvin Kadi was hacked down in the box af­ter col­lect­ing a long ball from Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi. Jab­u­lani Shongwe, who wore two dif­fer­ently coloured boots, stood out like a brightly coloured para­keet when he pounced on the loose ball and ri­fled it past a flail­ing Senzo Meyiwa. It would have been a dif­fer­ent mat­ter had the chance not been con­verted but it was due re­ward for a Wits unit that had dom­i­nated un­til that point.

The dif­fer­ence in coaches, Roger de Sa and Vladimir Ver­me­zovic, were now ev­i­dent in Pi­rates’ abil­ity to re­main calm even though they were chas­ing the game. Wits sensed blood and threw in the kitchen sink, but were kept at bay by a tena­cious unit that did not want the shame of los­ing a fourth con­sec­u­tive Cup Fi­nal.

They, how­ever, were for­tu­nate not to con­cede a sec­ond goal early in the sec­ond half when Meyiwa pulled off a su­perb save from a Sthem­biso Ng­cobo flick on from point blank range. That was the clar­ion call for Pi­rates to raid Wits goal and four min­utes later Eras­mus equalised af­ter Oupa Many­isa’s run went unchecked on the right flank.

It was the first of two glar­ing mis­takes by the nor­mally re­li­able Onis­mor Bhasera. He was also cul­pa­ble in Pi­rates sec­ond goal, scored by Si­fiso Myeni eight min­utes later, when he failed to cut off Mpho Makola’s pass to Many­isa, who was at the heart of ev­ery­thing that Pi­rates did.

Af­ter be­ing bul­lied by Let­ladi Madubanya for long pe­ri­ods of the first half, Many­isa op­er­ated on the right and ter­rorised Bhasera to no end. Eras­mus popped again and added his sec­ond of the match af­ter the Wits de­fence sim­ply fell apart in the face of Pi­rates’ in­ci­sive short­pass­ing game.

It knocked the stuff­ing out of Wits and de­spite keep­ing Meyiwa busy, Pi­rates had done enough to get the go­rilla off their backs.

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