Pirates overwhelm Amakhosi in scintillating TKO semis encounter
Justin Shonga seals it for Bucs with killer strike
Justin Shonga delivered another killer blow to Kaizer Chiefs’ lukewarm start to the 2018-19 season when Orlando Pirates scored a 2-1 victory in the Telkom Knockout semifinal at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban yesterday.
Shonga got the priceless winner six minutes from time in an absorbing match. The Zambian goal poacher finished Bucs’ persistent attack when the game looked like it was heading for extra time, with the two Soweto giants locked in a 11 first-half stalemate.
Shonga’s winner sees the Buccaneers, who are gunning for their first trophy in four years, waiting for the winner of today’s encounter between the defending champions Bidvest Wits and Baroka for a final which will be played in Port Elizabeth next month.
Pirates had come here with a slight psychological advantage after winning the last two league matches played in Johannesburg in March towards the end of last season, and in October, in what was a humdinger of a league derby.
Played in overcast but humid Durban weather, the sold-out game always promised to deliver a fantastic show for the fans, with over 50,000 general tickets having been snapped up within two hours of going on sale weeks before kick-off.
Interestingly, both mentors made a few telling changes to their starting line-ups compared with the teams they started with in the league derby in October.
The most eye-catching was Bucs coach Milutin Sredojevic’s decision to make four changes, among them Jackson Mabokgwane in goal instead of regular shot-stopper Siyabonga Mpontshane.
Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas also tweaked his starting XI, with Lebohang Manyama and George Maluleka taking Bernard Parker and Siphelele Ntshangase’s roles respectively.
It was Chiefs who looked better in the heated early exchanges with Khama Billiat unlucky to see his delightful chip tipped away from danger by Mabokgwane in the eighth minute after he had combined well with Dumisani Zungu on the left flank.
But the Buccaneers did well to find the lead against the run of play in the 12th minute, with Thembinkosi Lorch giving Itumeleng Khune not even the slightest of chances to save his strike, which kissed the roof of the net after connecting with a smart cross from fellow winger on the right, Vincent Pule.
The Bucs’ lead, however, didn’t last beyond five minutes, as Chiefs’ pressure paid off when Leonardo Castro pounced on Billiat’s teasing defence-splitting pass to chip it over a slowly advancing Mabokgwane to level matters in the first 20 minutes of the game.
The second period was not played with the frantic pace of the first, but both teams created a few openings that could have turned the game on its head.
Banyana Banyana 1, Zambia 1
Vincent Pule of Orlando Pirates and Willard Katsande of Kaizer Chiefs fight for the ball during the Telkom Knockout semifinal match at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban yesterday.