Leop­ard tame ‘Sea Rob­bers’

Sunday Observer - - SPORT - BY MTHUNZI MAZIYA Pi­rates……..….(0)1, Leop­ard……….(1)2

SOC­CER – Royal Leop­ard pro­duced a com­posed per­for­mance at the Mavuso Sports Cen­tre yes­ter­day to beat Mo­neni Pi­rates 2-1. It was a game played un­der im­mense heat, and no won­der it started at a mild pace with both teams strug­gling to cope with the high tem­per­a­tures.

It was no sur­prise that the first chance of the game came af­ter 22 min­utes of play, in which there were no clear-cut scor­ing chances. A cross from the right by Pi­rates’ Akhona Sibandze was waste­fully headed over the bar by the over­lap­ping Thabo Vi­lakati. At this stage, Leop­ard were nowhere near ef­fi­cient as they rushed their shots from the edge of the box, hit­ting static Pi­rates de­fend­ers on most oc­ca­sions.

Ex­actly af­ter 35 min­utes, the ref­eree blew his whis­tle to or­der the teams out for a much-needed wa­ter break, as tem­per­a­tures soared above 33 de­grees Cel­sius at the Mavuso Sports Cen­tre.

It was as if Pi­rates’ coach Tarisayi Changara knew dan­ger was com­ing as he re­mon­strated with his team’s goal-keeper, Siyabonga Zwane, telling him to fo­cus when the game was restarted.

It took Leop­ard only seven min­utes to score. An over hit cross from the left was headed back into the area by Menzi Dlamini, with vet­eran striker Barry Steenkamp let­ting the ball float through to­wards the wait­ing feet of gifted mid­fielder, Fanelo Ts­abedze.

He ri­fled a left foot shot past Zwane for the open­ing goal.

Lit­tle time was left be­fore half-time, and it was ap­par­ent that Leop­ard were to take the lead into the tun­nels. They duly com­plied.

At the res­tart, Leop­ard ap­peared to have been spurred by the goal they scored to­wards the end of the first half as they reached for Pi­rates’ half with ease.

Sens­ing more trou­ble, Pi­rates coach Terisayi Changara made a change in the 50th minute, bring­ing on

Bonkhe Myeza f or

Akhona Sibandze . Un­for­tu­nately for him, barely a minute af­ter that change a con­fu­sion be­tween the goal-keeper and de­fender Thabo Vil a kat i , led to Leop­ard’s Si­fiso Matse scor­ing what could be the eas­i­est goal of his life. It was the sim­plest of tap-ins af­ter the two Pi­rates had play­ers col­lided leav­ing the goal at the mercy of the at­tacker.

It was dif­fi­cult to see how Pi­rates would come back into the game af­ter this goal as their op­po­nents camped in their half for pro­longed pe­ri­ods.

The ‘ Buc­ca­neers’ did, how­ever, come close to scor­ing in the 70th minute when a rasp­ing shot by Zom­bodze Dlamini was spec­tac­u­larly tipped over the bar by Leop­ard’s Phep­hisani Msibi. He was be­ing called into ac­tion for the very first time in the game, which un­der­lined how poor Pi­rates were in at­tack all af­ter­noon, re­ally. A penalty awarded by the ref­eree in the 75th minute, af­ter Phep­hisani up­ended sub­sti­tute Muzi Vi­lakati in­side the box gave them a life­line, and they started to at­tack with pur­pose af­ter Menzi ‘ Ma­gawu­gawu’ S im e l a n e con­verted. How­eve r , Leop­ard held for an i mpor­tant vic­tory that gave them a snap view of the top of the stand­ings. Pi­rates must work on their at­tack af­ter t his dis­play.

Royal Leop­ard head coach Ed­win Mat­se­bula.

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