It was an away game for the Buccaneers ahead of the crucial Telkom grudge game vs Supersport United in the semi final this coming weekend (26 November 2016).
With 13 points in the bag and on position 6 on the ABSA log, Pirates played an away game against a struggling Chippa United who had not won a league game in their last 6 appearances. Chippa came into the clash at position 10 with 9 points. It was an entertaining game with two ball playing teams coming against each other.
Pirates came into game with lots of confidence – because since Palacious took over, they have won both games played under his leadership. The formation on the evening was a simple 4-5-1, it was clear that Palacious wanted to play on transition and on the counter.
Taking a glance at the line up for the buccaneers, Jackson Mabokgwane continued for the sick Mhlongo in goals. He came to game with lots of confidence after keeping a clean sheet in his first Orlando Pirates game. He was alert in goals, and made some brilliant reflex saves. He looked good overall, however, lost a bit of concentration from Thopola’s shot. He really secured the points for the Buccaneers, and won the hearts of the fans with his performance on the evening. Personally, I believe Mabokgwane was my man of the match as he managed to keep the team in the game with his saves and positioning.
In defense, there was one forced change ,with Matlaba suspended for the encounter which saw Patrick Phungwayo getting a chance at left back. Thembela Sikhakhane, Edwin Gyimah and Tonic Chabalala kept their places. In the opening stages, the defense had to survive the storm from Thembinkosi Lorch, Andile Mbenyane, Katlego Mashego and Sandile Zuke. Lorch, the former Buccaneer was troublesome and he kept changing flanks and switching position; but the maturity and the discipline from the Pirates defense calmed the storm. From there it was business as usual. I thought the communication from Chabalala and Gyimah was much, much better in this game and it had to be because the Chippa strikers were mobile and very quick on the night. Phungwayo was caught sleeping or ball watching towards the end of the first half when Lorch had a free header, but Mabokgwane was alert in goals and made a brilliant save. Besides that slip-up, Phungwayo gelled fairly well with the rest of the defense. I thought they covered each other well against a dangerous Chippa team. Issa Sarr played the shield in front of that defense. Sikhakhane had to be disciplined in his overlaps especially in the second half.
In midfield, the Buccaneers played with five players, and the reason for that is obvious… Guess why? Well, if you follow the PSL league, you would know that Chippa is one of the best if not most exceptional in terms of the possession game, or the best ball playing team. So, Manyisa, Sarr, Makola, Memela and Rakhale had to be compact, to help in defense, and it was easy to see that Pirates’s game plan was to play on the counter.
It was a tough evening at office for the midfielders. Their class showed, though it was in patches, however, they still managed to play on transition with pace every-time they won the ball. Thabo Rakhale and Amigo Memela were ready to hit on the counter when the ball was won back in midfield or defense. In the second half, Pirates started well with Oupa Manyisa and Mpho Makola combining to create a chance for Rakhale, but Daniel Akipeyi made a good reflex save.
Pirates needed some energy during the 2nd half hence Palacious took out Memela for Thabo Qalinge in the 67th minute; however, the Sea Robbers were constantly on the defense. Makola showed class and intelligence in the passes, runs and movement off the ball. Makola dictated the rhythm for Pirates in the second half. His influence in the game was key hence he was the official man of the match. The man is really enjoying his game now. Ace had to work hand in hand with Sarr to keep Chippa at bay, and played well in terms of team tactics. Rakhale also made way for Morrison towards the end, however, whilst Morrison is a brilliant player, he needed to play for the team especially as he came in toward the end of the game.
Ndoro was playing alone upfront, which is something he has gotten used to. He was a little frustrated in the opening stages because he was caught offsides on a couple of occasions. He had to bend his runs or make the half moon run to stay onside. He is top quality, it was only a matter of time before he got his runs right. And we all know know what happened when he got his run right, Right! Ndoro gave the buccaneers the lead to make it 9 goals in 9 league games when he timed his run to finish off a cross from Memela who is getting better everytime I watch him play. Ndoro was substituted by Gabuza. I think the coach needed Gabuza’s energy and his ability to hold up the ball as he also needed to save Ndoro for the cup game this forthcoming weekend.
Overall the 3 points are in the bag for the buccaneers, but what a nervy end for the Orlando Pirates faithful at the end. It was a smash and grab for the buccaneers in P.E.