Pirates start title defence in style
Premier Soccer League title holders Orlando Pirates began their title defence in fine style, coming from behind to beating Golden Arrows 2-1 at Orlando Stadium on Friday night.
New kid on the block Bongi Ntuli gave Arrows the lead before Thulasizwe Mbuyane equalised. Tlou Segolela grabbed the winner for Buccaneers in the second half.
In a highly tactical game, both teams started playing in a conservative mode.
The first real chance fell for Philani Shange, who was set up by Arrows skipper Thanduyise Khuboni in the 10th minute. Shange hurried his effort as he took a shot too early and his tame effort went wide.
Pirates responded quickly by launching an attack which saw Daine Klate’s inch-perfect cross headed into no man’s land by Sifiso Myeni who should have done better as he had all the time to control the ball and fire home.
In the 16th minute, Stanton Lewis came close to opening the scoring for Abafana Besithende but his powerful grass cutter was parried away for a corner by Moneeb Josephs.
In the cold night in Soweto, the Black and White sea was stunned into silence when wonder-kid Ntuli beat the offside trap and tucked the ball into the back of the net to give Arrows the lead in the 18th minute.
Arrows goalkeeper Pavels Steinbors was adjudged to have held the ball for more than the required six seconds and referee Phililip Tinyane awarded an indirect free kick to Bucs, which Klate blasted against the visitors wall.
Pirates coach Augusto Palacios was forced to make a substitution as early as the 26th minute with Ndumiso Mabena making way for Mbuyane.
Mabena suffered what looked like a hamstring injury.
The first stanza of the game, which was dominated by Arrows, was summed up by a beautiful Mbuyane goal right on the stroke of halftime to level matters.
The substitute rose above everyone in the Arrows’ box to powerfully head home a well taken corner kick by Myeni, giving the Lativian-born goalkeeper no chance.
Seven minutes into the second half, Pirates came close to taking the lead through the boot of Andile Jali who connected a Thabo Matlaba cross with a thunderbolt shot which went agonisingly wide. Pirates continued to power forward as Arrows looked happy to sit back and defend with Lativian recruit Ritus Krjauklis and Musa Bilankulu marshalling the visitors’ back four.
Arrows had a chance to take the lead in 66th minute when new signing Souleymane Keita set up Stanton Lewis, who powered his effort over the bar, much to the disappointment of coach Muhsin Ertugral and his assistant, Shaun Bartlett on the bench.
Pirates were missing the nimble-footed Oupa Manyisa in midfield who was out through injury and his replacement Manti Moholo struggled to gel with Jali.
Substitute Segolela unleashed the winner from about 35 yards out, which gave the diving Steinbors no chance as it flew straight into the back of the net breaking the Ghosts into song and frenzy in the 77th minute.