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Final score : Baroka FC 1 (H. Banda) – 1 Orlando Pirates FC (T. Qalinge)

Ahead of the clash

Orlando Pirates FC travelled to the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane on Tuesday evening to take on an energetic Baroka FC side who came into the encounter not having lost  in 7 games, with the most recent being a goal-less draw in their first encounter of the 2017/18 ABSA Premiership season against home town rivals Polokwane City FC. The Sea Robbers, on the other hand, were looking to build on their previous result, a 1 – 0 home victory against Chippa United.

The Mind games

With Baroka being boosted by the timely arrival and registration of Siphelele Ntshangase from Black Leopards, as well as the addition of former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer  Chiefs legend Doctor Khumalo as Technical Director – and Orlando Pirates feeling somewhat confident after playing well in their previous match, the match was always going to be played in the players’ minds as much as it would on the pitch.

The Starting line – ups

Baroka FC :  4-4-2/ 4-4-1-1

Vries, Matome(Mothupa),Kgoetyane,Mahashe(c), Banda,Masenamela,Chawapihwa, Madubanya,Mosele(Mdantsane), Kgaswane, Moeti, Motupa.

Orlando Pirates FC : 4-1-4-1 / 4-3-3

Sandilands, Matlaba,Shitolo, Nyauza, Maela, Nyatama, Moubara(Nkosi), Makola,Qalinge(Kutumela),Memela(Rakhale),Gabuza.

Both teams started with what seemed as their strongest possible eleven on the night. The home team in Baroka, had left out new signing Ntshangase, while The Buccaneers had left out new arrival Thamsanqa

Sangweni, who played in patches for much of his debut at the club, leaving space for Memela to get his first start of the game.

The 1st Half Tactical Chess game!

Orlando Pirates looked the most positive of the two teams in the opening minutes of the match with Moubara and Makola making runs into opposition turf in search of the early ball to striker Thamsanqa Gabuza, but Mzwanele Mahashe was on site to deal with Moubara’s early cross into the box from the left hand side.

Baroka looked to find their tempo and get their normal fast paced, wing orientated play going but a 3 -man midfield as well as the two wide players in Qalinge and Memela tucking inside to congest the middle of the park meant Bakgaka had to opt for the long ball in trying to find Moeti and Motupa upfront. When the ball did get to Moeti or Motupa, it would amount to nothing, as the Orlando Pirates midfield was there to gather the second ball and look to play on the counter.

Qalinge and Memela inverted wingers

During Orlando Pirates’ moments in possession (Build-up, Consolidation and Penetration) the two players inverted into the half space and looked to carry the ball into Barokas’ half of the field. This meant that Masenamela and Kgoetyane/Mothupa had to either risk tracking their men into those deep positions and leave dead – spaces behind them, or sit back and allow the two creative to come at them or cut inside. It was no coincidence as Pirate’s goal came from Qalinge, who crept into the box and placed a beautiful header to the far post of goalkeeper Virgil Vries from a Makola cross to make the score 1 – 0 in the 40th minute.

Baroka’s forced changes

As early as the 13th minute of the match, Baroka were forced to make a change at the back with Matome Kgoetyane going down with a hamstring injury and on came Albert Mothupa. They were dealt a similar blow when Mosele was stretchered off after an awkward tackle on Thabo Qalinge, and was replaced by Mdantsane in the middle of the park. One would think that two forced changes in the opening half would be a negative for the home side, however, it turned to be an opportunity given and taken by the two young players who were called upon it ended 1-0 to Pirates at half time.

Guns drawn in second stanza

The second half was much more open as both teams had an almost equal share of proceedings as both teams looked to play for a goal. With the introduction of Ntshangase for Baroka, it seemed as though he breathed new life into Barokas’ attack. Orlando Pirates seemed to be caught in two styles of play as they introduced Rakhale in search of a cushion goal, while he seemed to be fielded to keep Masenamela from pushing up. Orlando Pirates spent much of the opening minutes of the second stanza pedaling backwards and defending deep with Baroka throwing everything at them.

The genius of Moeti and Ntshangase

Sipho Moeti looked like the best offensive outlet for Baroka in the first half, he was very much looking to continue on that path as his strike partner in Gift Motupa was swapped for Leonard Ntshangase. The former Black Leopards number 10 caused problems for The Bucks defensive structure as he was running in between the lines and releasing Chawapihwa or on some occasions combining with Moeti. The pressure would soon pay off as Baroka found an equaliser from a Sipho Moeti taken corner headed in by Banda at the back post after some poor zonal marking from The Bucs, 1 all it became.




The Conclusion

Despite being a third time in a row that these two teams drew 1-1, it was another exciting encounter that displayed true South African football, high intensity, short combination play and goals from crosses (Baroka scored from a corner kick), along with a great display of skill.

Coach Thobejane of the home side rued his team’s missed opportunities, saying not converting chances “is not a Baroka problem, but an International problem” and will be hoping his side finds its stride in its next encounter.

Coach Michu of The Buccaneers admitted to his team letting go of the one goal lead, which he felt they should have added on by attacking more and “kill off the game”. A draw seemed a fair result as both teams had their own half and scored in it.


Author: Neo Israel Phetlho





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