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Bold Analysis: Pirates Loses Grip In Fight For Top 8 Finish

Bold Analysis: Pirates Loses Grip In Fight For Top 8 Finish

WeMabhakaniya kwenze ‘njani!

The Buccaneers were looking to break through into the top 8 bracket with a win at home as they hosted the title chasing Sundowns on Sunday.

It was the battle of the ‘stars’ as the Continental Champions in 1995 hosted the current Continental champions .The last time the two sides met, the buccaneers were hit for six. So, this was revenge time for the Buccaneers; pride was at stake for the Sea Robbers. However, they were not able to redeem themselves.

Let me take you through the Sea Robbers’ line up. In goals, Siyabonga Mphontshane was out with an injury which gave Jackson Mabokgwane the nod to start the game. Ironically, Mabokgwane was in goals the last time the two teams met during the first round of the season. However, in this weekend’s game, I must say that there was nothing much he could have done with the 2 goals they conceded; that is just my view.

In defense, coach Kjell Jonevret kept the same 4 in Happy Jele, Ayanda Gcaba,Thabo Matlaba and Patrick Phungwayo. In my opinion, the defense struggled against a pacey, mobile and tricky Sundowns attack. The movement and interchange of positions from the opposition caused havoc for the Bucs’ defense. It was a bad day in the office for the Bucs defense because they were caught in sixes and sevens a lot in this game.

In midfield, the coach started with the crowd favourites in Thabo Rakhale and Thabo Qalinge who replaced Thembinkosi Lorch who is injured and Mpho Makola who was dropped to the bench. Abubaker Mobara and Issa Sarr kept their places from the last encounter in central midfield, whilst Oupa Manyisa played on the tip of the triangle in the midfield three. It was one of the most stressful games I have watched as the Buccaneers were struggling to keep the ball in midfield. The Pirates midfielders lost a lot of ball possession. Pirates’ tactical discipline was lost because at times, you would find Sarr playing ahead of Manyisa and Mobara. When Ace also started losing the balls which is uncharacteristic of him, but I suspected that it was not going to be a good day for the hosts.

Sundowns had a better game plan on the day. They started most of their attack on transition. Sundowns players were quicker, sharper, and smarter in this game and they played with more purpose. They timed their pressing game well; they pressed as a team; and in packs of 3 or 4’s; this proved to be very successful.

Coach made a double substitution taking off Mobara and Qalinge, with the pair of Makola and Dove Wome coming in. That did not change the game that much as Sundowns were in cruise control already; using their experience to slow-down the tempo of the game and calling the shots in midfield. In my opinion, Wome should be given a starting berth in the last few games to see his worth because for me, he deserves a chance.

Upfront, Thamsanqa Gabuza kept his place from the last encounter vs Chippa United. He was left very frustrated upfront with the lack of service or supply. He tried pressing the Sundowns defense, even with his energy levels, he eventually got tired. Gabuza must learn that when you are playing against a defense that keeps the ball very well, you need to press in packs of 3’s or 4’s; and in the correct areas of the pitch or else it is a waste of energy. Gabuza was eventually substituted and his love/hate relationship with the supporters showed once again when he was taken off. He was frustrated by the supporters and he got impatient with them. What I can say is, ‘My brother, try to develop a thick skin; do the business on the pitch; and when you know you gave it your all in the pitch, don’t react to them. Even Ronaldo gets booed by Real Madrid fans. Remember, at times, players are taken off for tactical reason and not because they are having a bad game. Keep working hard, keep doing you.’ Tendai Ndoro came in for Gabuza and had a couple of half chances, but there wasn’t much time.

Overall, a bad day at the office for the boys; and once again, Sundowns have done a double over Pirates in two consecutive seasons. They kept the ball better, used it better, used their chances, and were hungrier than us today…. harde MaBuccaneer. It is out of our hands. We need to win all our forthcoming games. We hope (sizominya) for the teams above us to drop points for us to make it into the top 8. The most points we can get is 40 points. Let us rekindle the hunger team. We still have a Nedbank semi-final to play, and our last chance to win a trophy and redeem our beloved team from one of the worst season since the PSL era.

The Bold

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