ORLANDO Pirates will play Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 final in September after drawing 1-1 in the second leg of their semifinal with Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Stadium on Sunday. Added to the first leg score of 3-2, Bucs won the two-legged cup tie 4-3 on aggregate.
After a goalless first half, Elias Pelembe opened the scoring to put the Brazilians in charge but the Buccaneers’ Oupa Manyisa equalised with a long range screamer worthy of deciding any knockout match.
Sundowns saw slightly more of the ball in the first half but were unable to really threaten Pirates’ defence. The visitors did well to stifle the Brazilians’ creative midfielders Musa Nyatama and Teko Modise, which cut out the supply to Elias Pelembe and striker Katlego Mphela.
Bucs were generally content to sit deep but they still offered more of an attacking threat than ‘Downs, with the pace of wingers Tlou Segolela and Dikgang Mabalane providing the perfect platform for rapier-like counter attacks.
However, other than a couple of long range attempts which were not far off target, Pirates also looked unlikely to find the back of the net.
In all, the first half was a tactical battle in which the teams effectively cancelled each other out, and it was unrecognisable compared to the open and flowing first leg that produced five goals last weekend.
After the break the game opened up much more, especially as Sundowns finally moved up through the gears and took charge of midfield.
On 63 minutes the Brazilians finally broke the deadlock, with Pelembe coolly finishing from inside the box after exchanging passes with Lebohang Mokoena.
With Sundowns now having the edge on away goals, Pirates were forced to come out of their shell and they duly drew level on 70 minutes through an early contender for goal of the season from Oupa Manyisa.
The midfielder picked up a clearance from a corner kick about 40 metres from goal and proceeded to send a phenomenal long range shot beyond the reach of Wayne Sandilands to make it 1-1 on the day and 4-3 on aggregate.
Sundowns threw numbers forward in the dying minutes in an effort to back in front – and left themselves open to counter attacking opportunities that Bucs weren’t able to take advantage of – but there were no further goals.
The final will be played on September 10 at NFB Stadium, kick-off is at 8.15pm
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 1 (Pelembe 63’)
Orlando Pirates (0) 1 (Manyisa 70’)
Sundowns: (4-3-3) Sandilands; Mphahlele, Mwanjali, Xulu Masenamela; Nyatama, Moriri, Modise (Mushekwi 86’); Pelembe, Mphela, Mokoena (Khenyeza 74’)
Pirates: (4-2-3-1) Josephs; Jele, Sangweni, Lekgwathi, Cloete; Jali, Manysia; Mabalane (Ndulula 72’), Mbuyane, Segolela (Mahamutsa 90+1’); Mabena (Doutie 80’)-Backpagepix