What a sad way to start the second half of the season by my beloved Buccaneers.
Their very first two games after the festive break have seen them secure 1 point, with zero goals to show and six goals conceded that even I can’t watch! They remain on the 10th place, with 19 points and could have easily secured between 2 to 6 points in their first two games of 2017 which would have accelerated their pace up the log.
Their first game in the new year was against a 13th placed Platinum Stars on 14 points. Brighton Mhlongo was in goals; I felt he did well on the evening before the accident or incident, with Phiri, which led to him being replaced by Mabokgwane.
The Buccaneers had 4 at the back namely; Thabo Matlaba, Happy Jele, Ayanda Gcaba and Thembela Sikhakhane at the back. Besides Sikhakhane been caught a couple of times square and tactically out of position, I thought they generally did well.
In midfield they had 5, Oupa Manyisa, Amigo Memela, Thembinkosi Lorch, Issa Sarr and Mpho Makola in the number 10 role just behind the main striker. I thought Lorch worked very hard is his first game for the Buccaneers. I liked his work ethic defensively and offensively. However, there is room for improvement when it comes to his creativity and passing game. Sarr got injured around the 30th minute and was replaced by Abbubaker Mobara. Lorch got tired and he was replaced by Makhudubela. Upfront, Tendai Ndoro started the game and finished it. He was starved of supply and looked frustrated all night long. It was a dull zero-zero at the end of the 90 minute game.
Now, let’s focus on one of the saddest day for the Orlando Pirates family, I mean this game was predicted to be the game of the weekend. But alas, it was not meant to be. The game of football on the pitch was entertaining, with lots of goals (6) scored by Sundowns. This was the game of the season by far.
Off the field, it was the day to forget, and an embarrassment for South African football at Loftus Stadium in the PSL Era. As soon as Sundowns scored the 6th goal, all hell broke loose as the Buccaneer fans invaded the pitch, vandalized the cameras and a fight broke between the supporters. I must emphasize this behavior has no place in our football; this is not the way to vent frustrations by the Pirates supporters. It was an afternoon to forget for anyone associated with this Mighty Club. Remember soccer family, this is the 2nd time this season that Orlando Pirates is getting a 6 goals beating by a Tshwane based team. It was unbearable for the supporters.
Fan violence can not be condoned no matter what the score line is, Pirates is the oldest and most cultured team in South Africa, atleast according to me. Their supporters should be setting an example.
A bad day at the office is an under statement. As I’m writing this review, my phone keeps ringing, the die-hard supporters of one of the biggest teams in Africa (Orlando Pirates) wanting to know what went wrong on the night. I don’t have the answer, but let me give you my thoughts about the game.
It was fifth placed Sundowns after 10 games, on 22 points against a low on confidence Orlando Pirates who came into the game at 10th position after 14 games, with only 19 points to show.
Taking a look at the game at Loftus Stadium; The goalkeeping department had a forced change because Brighton Mhlongo got injured during their game against Platinum Stars. This meant Mabokgwane started in goals, with Mphontshane taking a spot on the bench. Mabokgwane looked solid from the last game in Rustenburg. On the day, he had to pick the ball 6 times from his own net as he conceded 6 goals on the day. The was nothing much he would have done with the 6 goals he conceded. He was not vocal enough, and could not organize his back 4 who had never played together and were all over the show.
In defense, there were 2 changes; James Okwauso came in for Jele who was dropped to the bench to my surprise. Sikhakhane also dropped to the bench and was replaced by Marc van Heerden. Gcaba kept his place and Matlaba switched from left back to right back for this encounter, with the left back occupied by Marc. I don’t like to criticize players but James Okwauso had a nightmare and a game to forget on debut for the Buccaneers. He was the least strongest in that defense. Van Heerden was also exposed for his lack of pace at wing back. The pace and movement of the Sundowns forwards in Percy Tau, Khama Billiat, Anthony Laffor and Themba Zwane caused havoc for the Pirates defense that had not played together before. I still don’t understand why change the back 4 that didn’t concede in the last game. I thought they shouldn’t have tempered with the back four especially playing the African Champions with one of the most fierce offensive players in the league. In the first half alone, I counted 7 long balls by passing the midfield and heading straight to Ndoro at defense – that’s not the usual Pirates way of play…
In midfield, there was one forced change following Sarr’s injury. He was replaced by Abbubaker Mobara who started the game in midfield, partnering the captain Manyisa in central midfield. Lorch kept his place on the right wing and so did Memela on the left. That’s the department Sundowns totally dominated with Mabunda and Kekane pulling the stings,protecting their back four, and supplying their offensive players with quality balls. Manyisa and Mobara were totally dominated in this department. Manyisa needs to lead by example, at the moment, he is playing in phases meaning 5 minutes you see him, then 10 minutes he disappeares. Manyisa needs to really up his game, he needs to avail himself, be solid, and dominate such that start play goes through him. He knows the Pirates strength is playing through the wings and to do that, Manyisa must the link to collect the ball from the defense, then supply his wingers or offensive players. At the moment, the Buccaneers have no player doing that.
Upfront, Ndoro started with the goal shy Gift Mothupa. In the first minutes of the game, the 2 strikers combined with Ndoro putting a delightful ball for Mothupa who rounded the Keeper Onyango but would not score. If Mothupa had scored that chance, it would have been a different game.
At halftime, it was 2 nil to Sundowns. At the begin of the second half, Palacious made a tactical change by taking out Gcaba and putting in Gabuza. I thought it was a good tactical change, however, if I had a choice, i would have taken out Okwauso instead of Gcaba. The change meant Mobara who started in the central midfield with Manyisa would have to drop to center back to partner Okwauso. This meant Mothupa dropped from second striker to partner Manyisa in central midfield, and Gabuza partnered Ndoro. This was positive from Njenje, because he was now playing a brave 4-4-2. Event that did not inspire them.
I could see the disappointment in coach Palacious eyes, you could see fire in his eyes, I mean this is a coach with very high standards. I have worked with coach Palacious, I know he studies the opponents, does video analysis and then plans his tactics and let the players work on it at training. Coach Phalafala as we used to call him must be guttered and frustrated because he is a good tactician.I hope he doesn’t resign. I’m just concerned about his health though.
I hope the players have a meeting amongst themselves with out the coaches and management to iron out the issues in the team. Their senior players must lead by example, they must tell each other the truth. Senior players must tell the young players and new players about playing for the badge, the supporter, families and then the name at the back on the jersey. For the sake of all the Buccaneers family, I hope we will never have to see such a score line ever again.
A very sad day for the Ghost, harde maBuccarners. Hudo luga ( all will be fine).