Pirates beat SuperSport to go top of the table
November 1 2016 is a date Orlando Pirates diehards would like to forget. Not just for a moment, but forever.
It’s certainly a day that former Bucs coach Muhsin Ertugral, who resigned immediately after Pirates suffered their heaviest league defeat in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era — a 6-1 humiliation by SuperSport United at the Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga —, regret the most.
Eight league matches after that forgettable day, Pirates have tried to redeem themselves in this fixture, including in Saturday's night match at the Orlando Stadium where they fought back to win 2-1, their third win against United since that defeat.
The win, a fourth straight one in all competitions, was gained courtesy of substitute striker Tshegofatsho Mabasa’s 87th minute goal and it propelled Bucs to the top of the DStv Premiership table, having been a second in four league matches in which two had ended in draws.
Saturday evening’s result is not surprising given the seriousness with which Pirates have started this 2020-21 campaign. There seems to be a never-die-spirit aplenty in this Bucs side.
It’s not only the Bucs strip that’s been tweaked so marvellously, but also the critical detail has been focused on signing quality players over quantity and the results are slowly beginning to show.
With this team, under the stewardship of Josef Zinnbauer — Bucs’s fifth coach since Ertugral’s exit four years ago — Pirates are already in the MTN8 final where they’ll battle it out against Bloemfontein Celtic on December 12 with an aim to end their embarrassing six-year trophy drought.
In Saturday's encounter, Bucs’ five new signings that include Thulani Hlatshwayo, Deon Hotto, Thabang Monare, Wayde Jooste and goalkeeper Richard Ofori all started the match, and the way they clawed their way back after United had taken an early lead continued to show that Zinnbauer’s team could be onto something sweet this season.
But it’s still a long way before 30 league games are concluded in May to determine whether Pirates can win their first league title since the 2011-12 season.
United midfielder Teboho Mokoena caught Bucs cold in the sixth minute to put Kaitano Tembo’s team in the lead after a corner kick that Bucs failed to clear.
A few changes by Zinnbauer at the restart helped Bucs to find the equaliser via Zakhele Lepasa’s spot kick in the 51st minute. Lepasa had been brought down in the area by Siyabonga Nhlapo and referee Victor Gomez pointed to the spot though Lepasa looked to be in an offside position before receiving the ball.
Four years ago Ertugral would have been proud of the way Pirates turned the tables on United on Saturday evening.