Ruthless Pirates thump Highlands at Orlando
Orlando Pirates completed a week that no one will deny it belonged to them by beating Highlands Park 3-1 through two quick goals by Thembinkosi Lorch and Gabadinho Mhango before Paseka Mako competed the rout in the dying seconds of the first stanza at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
The win was a third successive at home in the Absa Premiership this season for Bucs and it came after enlisting the services of the German coach Josep Zinnbauer, who started the run in his debut match when Pirates beat Black Leopards 3-1 in what was the swansong league match of last year.
Yesterday’s win came just two days after the fifth-placed Buccaneers had beaten reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in what was a sold out affair played in a festive atmosphere.
Bucs were lucky to be gifted two goals within the first 10 minute, starting with Lorch’s opener from a harmless clearance by Bucs defender Happy Jele that the Bafana Bafana midfielder deflected into an empty net to open his league account.
Mhango, who had come to this match having scored at least one goal in Bucs’ last seven matches including a hat-trick in the demolition of Polokwane City (4-1), was also given the easiest of finishes to take his league tally to 12 and two clear of those following in the league’s goal scorers’ chart.
Just as it looked like Bucs were feeling the effects of the gruelling encounter against Sundowns as they lacked invention after taking the lead, Paseka Mako scored a beauty a few moments before the interval after the Highlands defence allowed him to cut in from the left and unleash a ground shot inside the area.
For Bucs, it was all about controlling the proceedings in the second period as they looked in no hurry to stretch their lead while the visitors chased and tried hard to get the goals.
Substitute Mlungisi Mbunjana gave the visitors some glimmer of hope when he beat Bucs goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands with a long range shot 10 minutes from time.
Pirates started this match on the back of the news of club boss and PSL chairman Irvin Khoza wife Mantwa having passed away on Friday, prompting the PSL to quickly notify all the clubs to observe a moment of silence before kick-off of all the matches this weekend.
Suspensions forced Zinnbauer, who is now unbeaten in five mattches, to make two changes to the team that defeated Sundowns, giving Bongani Sam his debut in Bucs colours on the left side of the defence in the place of Innocent Maela while Paseka Mako came in for Vincent Pule.
These teams had come to this clash with contrasting fortunes. While Bucs were riding the crest of waves, the visitors were a picture of inconsistency.
Owen Da Gama’s team had only manage to eke out two victories in their last six matches, but worryingly they came to Soweto with Da Gama hanging onto his job by the tinniest of threads after two losses away to Kaizer Chiefs (3-0) and home to PSL rookies Stellenbosch FC (4-1) prompted wild rumours of his sacking.