Home Sport Derby weekend sees Pirates take huge positives into clash

Derby weekend sees Pirates take huge positives into clash

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Pirates will face arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the much-anticipated Soweto derby at the FNB Stadium on Saturday, hoping to complete a league double.

Evidence Makgopa of Orlando Pirates celebrates goal with teammates during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 11 November 2023. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Mihlali Baleka

IT wasn’t pretty, but Orlando Pirates got the job done as they beat Polokwane City 1-0 on Saturday afternoon to take a huge morale-booster to the derby week.

Evidence Makgopa scored Pirates’ solo goal against City at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium, taking his tally to five goals in 15 games in the DStv Premiership.

Granted the win meant that Pirates climbed to fourth on the log as they continued their search for a top-three finish berth, but it meant a lot more.

Pirates will face arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the much-anticipated Soweto derby at the FNB Stadium on Saturday, hoping to complete a league double.

But they can build even more on this win if they beat Cape Town Spurs in the derby rehearsal on Wednesday night at Orlando Stadium.

Jose Riveiro will also be happy with the clean sheet, which will serve as dedication to goalie Melusi Buthelezi, who is recovering from a hijacking ordeal.

After sending a statement in their bid to defend the Nedbank Cup, beating Crystal Lake 6-0 in the last 32 last week, Pirates had to bring their form here.

After all, they want to do well on the league stage as well and repeat last season’s feat, winning a cup double and finishing second in the standings.

But Pirates didn’t bring their scoring boots as they did in Mpumalanga in the first half.

They went into the break goalless before Pirates went on to win 1-0.

Pirates didn’t stutter in terms of goals early on because coach Riveiro hadn’t made a lot of changes to his XI – Deon Hotto replaced Innocent Maela.

Pirates dominated proceedings from the outset, hoping to use the skills and pace of Karim Kimvuidi and Relebohile Mofokeng to cut City’s defence open.

But that didn’t bear fruit. Instead, it was City’s Oswin Appollis, who seemed as though he would score with every break, launching shots at goals.

However, Pirates managed to flip the script and tightened their grip on possession in search of a half-time lead – which never came.

Mofokeng thought he had won a penalty for the visitors after his deft pass inside the box struck the arm of Meshack Maphangule to lift the Peter Mokaba roof. But Sikhumbuzo Gasa sent the stadium into deafening silence, turning away the penalty call and awarding a Pirates corner-kick instead.

Pirates didn’t despair, though. Instead, they grew in confidence, with Kimvuidi and Mofokeng looking for the much-needed breakthrough.

Kimvuidi came close to finding that goal as he was able to turn on the D-Line before launching an acrobatic effort that came off the upright.

Mofokeng nearly saved Kimvuidi from the blushes but his flying curling effort from the edge of the box was tipped over the crossbar by Manuel Sapunga. Pirates started the second half the way they left off in the first, taking the game to the hosts.

However, Makgopa was the main culprit for their goalless start, the Pirates striker ballooning a close-range effort after a Thalente Mbatha pass.

But Makgopa made up for lost ground, giving Pirates the lead after connecting with Hotto’s free kick in the air to guide his header into the bottom corner.

Kabelo Dlamini should have doubled his team’s tally in stoppage time, but his shot came off the upright as Pirates, nonetheless, held on for the win.

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