SuperSport deliver KO to Pirates

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Mnyamane 22

Orlando Pirates (0) 0

AS far as build-ups to celebrating milestones go, Orlando Pirates are pretty mute about their 80th birthday party next year. The bash is at risk of being a big anti-climax, with not much in the way of silverware in the trophy cabinet of a club with such a rich history after they were knocked out of another domestic cup competition when they lost the battle for a place in the final of the Telkom Knockout against Cape Town City on December 10. In August, the Buccaneers watched as their chances of an early season title went up in smoke following defeat away to Bidvest Wits in the quarter-finals of the MTN8.

There are two more trophies on offer this season for Pirates to mark 80 years of existence next year, but both are marathons in their own unique way. You can perhaps still consider them Absa Premiership title contenders despite the fact that they are dragging their feet in the championship race in sixth position from nine games. However, because there are 29 matches remaining that narrative has plenty of twists and turns still to follow. And then there’s the Nedbank Cup, a trophy still in the grasps of their opponents here on Saturday night as reigning champions. It takes a bit of consistency to win that one, something which Pirates currently do not have, but it is quite the contrary for SuperSport United.

Stuart Baxter’s men knew when to attack, defend and close the pockets of spaces that the Buccaneers tried to exploit, especially later in the second half in a desperate attempt to claw their way back into the game. Thabo Mnyamane, for a second successive match, put the Tshwane side in the lead. He’d arrived on the scene in the 30th minute to break the deadlock for SuperSport against Chiefs in their 1-1 stalemate earlier in the week and was eight minutes early to draw first blood in Nelspruit.

That obviously set the tone for Baxter’s men, who offered a highly entertaining display, with Pirates right on their heels until Thabo Matlaba was red carded in the 80th minute for a vile tackle on striker Jeremy Brockie. The Buccaneers didn’t completely give up though, showing the kind of urgency that would have done them a world of good had it come before they were trailing and prior to Matlaba leaving them with a one-man disadvantage. But a defeat to SuperSport shouldn’t be that much of a surprise – Pirates, under any coach, seem to struggle to get one over Baxter. Even when he was at Chiefs, between 2013 and 2015, the Scotsman lost only once to the Buccaneers. Since joining SuperSport in January, he’s given Pirates a master class in the Nedbank Cup final in May this year, held them to a scintillating 2-2 draw in the final game of the previous Premier League season and – no doubt the most memorable result in the club’s history – watched from the dugout as they humiliated Pirates 6-1 at this same venue three weeks ago in a league game, triggering the resignation of Muhsin Ertugral live on television.

While there’s a risk Pirates’ 80th birthday celebration could be a damp squib as far as trophies in the cabinet, SuperSport might be on the verge of something special.

Follow Mazola Molefe on Twitter@superjourno

Original source: SuperSport deliver KO to Pirates

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