Orlando Pirates played a 4-4-1-1 at times, and at other times a 4-2-3-1 formation. They came into the game without a win in the last 10 games. Over the weekend, the Buccaneers came from behind to draw with their archi-rivals Kaizer Chiefs, in front of a packed FNB stadium.
Let us reflect on the line-up; Brighton Mhlongo kept his place in goals. He has established himself as the number one keeper at Pirates now, and I was not surprised he started again, as he did well in the derby. In their match against SuperSport United, I thought Mhlongo did not have one of his best games. His positioning and the way he manned his area were just ok when compared to his usual high standards. He pulled off some good saves, but he would be upset to have conceded the goal on his near post. At times, he was hesitant coming out for the crosses, resulting in him not getting to the ball.
At the back, coach Kjell kept the same back four. This is good because the consistency will stabilize the back. Coach Kjell Jonevret selected Patrick Phungwayo at leftback, Ntsikelelo Nyauza at rightback, while Happy Jele and Ayanda Gcaba continued pairing at the center back. Nyauza did not last too long though; he went out with something that looked lik a hamstring injury. Matlaba came in for Nyauza to play at right back. The defense could not deal with the cross that came in for Thabo Mnyamane, even though they had 8 players behind the ball. They were caught ball watching, and the lathergic defending was punished by Mnyamane at the far post. Matlaba made good overlapping runs, he also had a couple of long range shots. Jele and Gcaba looked good during offensive standard situations. In this department the coach needs to work on pressing the ball carrier because people are having shots with no pressure.
I knew the transition ball and the standard situations would cause the most threat for the Buccaneers. In midfield, coach Kjell kept the same four in Thembinkosi Lorch, Oupa Manyisa, Mpho Makola and Abbubaker Mobara. I must add, Pirates have come up with one of the best midfield combos in Manyisa and Mobara, and they played exceptionally well against the transition balls. Stuart Baxter perfected that art at Chiefs with Masango and Yeye there. That’s one of Supersport’s threats with Yeye the master minder. Lorch came into game high on confidence after winning man of the match in his first derby. He also got the equalizer on the evening after Gcaba and Jele had attempts. What I like about Lorch is that he is not scared, he is involved, he knows when to stay on the line, when to drift inside to overload the midfield, and when to receive without pressure. He has great potential to make it at Pirates. Makola is a bit low on confidence; he is not playing with his head high. He needs to do the simple things right in order to bring his confidence back; perhaps playing one or two touches right might bring the confidence back. Manyisa and Mobara’s midfield pairingis the building block for the Buccaneers. Ace is coming back, watch the space.
Upfront, the coach went for Thamsanqa Gabuza and Dove “V-Power” Wome, as he stuck to the same 11 that started the derby. Gabuza played well in the derby and lasted the whole game. Coach Kjell started with Gabuza again, he was happy with what Gabuza offered him at the derby which was presence in the box at all times, played well with his back to goal, held up play, won aerial balls and could help the team defensively. But Gabuza, let me remind you that strikers are judged on goals. You need to open your account for the current season. Gabuza Sir, you are a fantastic player, continue to play well, but most importantly please score goals. Dove Mr V-Power, is intelligent around the box and in the box, but I felt he tried too hard against the team that has put him on loan to the Buccaneers, resulting in him loosing a lot of possession. He didn’t create chances to score for himself, and he was getting frustrated hence he was pulled off in the 61st minute and replaced by Gift Mothupa whom I thought on the night came on and made a difference for a change. He used the spaces in between the lines very well, at times overloading one of the sides, creating an extra man for the opposition which gave him time to receive and turn at times. He should build from this performance. Gabuza also made way for Ndoro in the 74th minute. Ndoro had a chance to win it at the end but it was not to be.
Overall, this performance should encourage the coach, because they came from behind again to show character and the fighting spirit to come back from 2 top teams Chiefs and Supersport. But the coach still has a lot of work to address defensively because they still conceding silly goals. Pirates had 8 players behind the ball yet Supersport scored. Tactically, coach Kjell needs to address this, but it is also the concentration he needs to work on.