Bucs break City hoodoo

Vusimusi Mngomezulu, of Polokwane City, and Asavela Mbekile, of Orlando Pirates, during their Absa Premiership match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane
Vusimusi Mngomezulu, of Polokwane City, and Asavela Mbekile, of Orlando Pirates, during their Absa Premiership match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane

Orlando Pirates produced a breathtaking second-half performance to eke out a deserved 2-1 victory away over Polokwane City, a team they had failed to beat in three successive seasons.

Second-half goals by Brazilian defender Marcelo da Silva in the 58th minute and a brilliant free kick by Zambian striker Justin Shonga in the 60th minute gave the Buccaneers three points that took them one point clear of Bidvest Wits on top of the Absa Premiership table.

Ayanda Nkili pulled one goal back from a corner kick for City in the 90th minute.

Pirates had struggled to find their top gear in this match with the first-half 0-0 scoreline suggesting a seventh successive draw was in the offing.

But then Da Silva’s first goals in Bucs colours and Shonga’s second goal of the season completely changed the complexion of the match.

It was City, the home side, who had produced better chances before Da Silva headed in the opening goal off George Chigova’s save.

Chigova had parried Nyasha Munetsi’s header into Da Silva’s path when the City goalkeeper was trying to save a free kick which was drilled by Thabo Qalinge into Polokwane’s dangerous area.

Just as City were trying to recover from that setback, Shonga struck again when his nicely curled free kick just outside the area beat Chigova in the near post for Bucs to take their points tally to 21 in 11 matches.

In a match that was played in drizzling rain in the second half, Rise and Shine were the better side, but just like their visitors were in the first 45 minutes, they lacked the killer passes to create clear-cut openings.

Even City’s reliable skipper Jabu Maluleke failed to add to his two league goals as he wasted a few free kicks in the second half.

The six changes made by Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic might have contributed to Bucs taking close to 60 minutes before stamping their authority on the match.

Mpho Makola, Mpho Mako, Qalinge, Linda Mntambo, Da Silva and goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane were given starts, taking the places of Augustine Mulenga, Ben Motshwari, Xola Mlambo, Innocent Maela, Siyabonga Mpontshane and Vincent Pule.

Mlambo and Pule were the only two players who played in the previous match to at least make the Pirates bench, while the others were rested.

Perhaps playing this match with one eye on the intriguing league encounter against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday, Sredojevic was forced to make these changes.

But his team were slow to find their rhythm against a team they have struggled to beat in the past three seasons.

Last season, they played to a 2-2 draw in Polokwane before drawing 1-1 at the Orlando Stadium in the second round.

Coming into this match, little separated the sides.

They both came boasting a seven-match unbeaten run with Bucs sitting two points behind Wits at the top of the table after four wins and three draws, while City were third with 17 points after five wins and two stalemates. - TimesLIVE