But Thabo Matlaba’s goal, after an inviting pass from Yassar Mugerwa, helped the Ghost find their voices and the outfit pick up much needed three points that moved them from 12th to seventh place in the Absa Premiership.
Unlike in previous matches, Pirates started and ended the match with a high tempo and hit the right notes. But they couldn’t hold them long enough to produce something magical until Matlaba held his cool and showed the inner-striker in him to finish with two AmaTuks players rushing at him.
Before that, the closest they had come to making sweet music was when Myeni waved his baton, producing a brilliant back heel that fell to Mpho Makola, whose thunderous shot hit the woodwork.
The move showed two things about the club. The first was how Myeni is filling the big shoes left by Oupa Manyisa as a play-maker and the second is the outfit’s lack of composure up front. The biggest casualty of that is Lehlohonolo Majoro, who has been droped in the club’s last two matches.
Instead, coach Eric Tinkler has been playing a 4-2-3-1 formation where Thamsanqa Gabuza leads the attack, Myeni as the play-maker and Thabo Rakhale and Thabo Qalinge on the flanks.
Because of his dead leg, Qalinge missed yesterday’s match and was replaced by Makola in the two changes Tinkler made to the team that beat Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday. But the one “replacement” who shone was Myeni, operating in the role he started at when he joined Bidvest Wits, where he also worked with Tinkler.
It’s a position the club have struggled to fill since Manyisa fractured his ankle in September and plans to use Myeni there were dashed when he also got injured the following month. It was up to Kermit Erasmus to not only lead the attack but also create chances, but his departure meant two places needed filling. While the club has struggled to get a reliable goal scorer, Myeni has taken the baton to lead the team.
AmaTuks coach Shaun Bartlett would give anything to have such a leader at the back, even though they defended with none of the shoddy work that has characterised their campaign, which is why they find themselves second from bottom.
The loss of Willem Mwedihanga because of the neck injury will compound the defensive woes of a side who were just 20 minutes away from keeping only their third clean sheet.
Even the blunt attack is slowly getting sharper under Bartlett but not sharp enough to take advantage of a Pirates’ defence that is constantly changed and the reason why they have kept just two clean sheets.
Thabo Mnyamane, who grew up idolising Bartlett, came close to denying Bucs their thir. He controlled the ball well and hit it as he fell, only for the shot to go wide – an effort that made Bartlett stand up and applaud.
Tinkler leapt for joy as Bucs jumped into the top eight with the win.
University of Pretoria: 0
Orlando Pirates: (0)1
Original source: Myeni fills Oupa’s big shoes