Pirates set up cup final date with SuperSport after brushing past Arrows in the semis
Orlando Pirates’s 80th anniversary celebrations appear to be back on track‚ at least for the time being‚ after the Bucs beat Golden Arrows 1-0 to reach the final of the Nedbank Cup at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on Sunday afternoon.
A beautifully taken first half header from Abbubaker Mobara ensured that Pirates will line up against SuperSport United in what should be a nail-biting tournament finale at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on June 24.
United earned their place in the final after beating Chippa United 4-2 on penalties at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium on Saturday afternoon and Mobara’s header handed Pirates an opportunity to avoid the ignominy of finishing the season empty-handed on a year when they are supposed to be celebrating eight decades of existence.
Pirates dominated the first half and Mpho Mokola should have opened the scoring as early as the ninth minute when he suddenly found himself with acres of space inside the Arrows area but instead of picking a spot and putting Nkosingiphile Gumede to the sword‚ he contrived to fire the ball into the heavens without troubling the bemused goalkeeper.
But Makola made amends later in the half when his inch-perfect delivery found Mobara‚ who in turn beat Gumede with a delightful header in the near-post.
The Arrows defending was appalling to say the least and Mobara didn’t even have the discomfort of a rival breathing down his neck as he made his way to accept the early Christmas gift.
In fact‚ so lacklustre was the defending that the Pirates player would do well to include the generous members of the Arrows rearguard when he compiles his Christmas shopping list this year.
Arrows did manage to put up a bit of a fight in the second half as they went in search of the elusive equalising goal that would have taken the game to extra time.
Nduduzo Sibiya could have earned Arrows the priceless equaliser right at the death but his delightfully deceptive free kick curled beyond Pirates goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane’s reach but just as the home fans gingerly rose to celebrate what they momentarily assumed to be beautifully taken equaliser‚ the ball swerved and agonisingly crashed against the crossbar.
The Pirates rearguard recovered quickly and cleared the ball for a corner kick. It was perhaps Arrows’ best opportunity of the game and the KwaZulu-Natal side will be forgiven if replays of that spurned effort give them nightmares whenever they see it.
It was a heartbreaking miss for the home side and had the ball dipped only an inch lower‚ they could have forced the game into extra time.
Pirates and their relieved Swedish coach Kjell Jonevret can now look forward to next month’s final with a huge weight off their shoulders.
The Bucs still face the prospect of finishing the current season outside of the top eight for the first time since the formation of the Premier Soccer League in 1996 and earning a place in the Nedbank Cup final will go a long way towards softening that blow should it be confirmed on the final day of the PSL season on Saturday. - TMG Digital/TMG Sport