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How did Pirates settle the score with Sundowns?

Written By Themba Khumalo on Thursday, February 27, 2014 | Thursday, February 27, 2014

On Tuesday night we witnessed the strongest and most dangerous kick of the dying horse to Mamelodi Sundowns.

Orlando Pirates was written off before the game due to lackadaisical, jaded and erratic performance in the league. Pirates approached the game as underdogs but with much improved game plan.

Pirates caretaker coach Eric Tinkler introduced a new central pair combination of captain Lucky Lekgwathi and Happy Jele. The new combination worked effectively due to good understanding. It was for the first time in many years to witness Pirates playing with balance defence both aerial and on the ground. Jele aerial ability made difference by challenging many of the aerial balls whilst Lekgwathi commanded the entire defence with distinction playing sweeping role without encroaching the territory of the hardworking Jele.

Thabo Matlaba and the less known Ntsikelelo Nyauza easily closed down Sundowns effective wing play of Elias Pelembe and Anthony Laffor who was sacrificed for Lebohang Mokoena in the second half after made very little impact. Nyauza never puts a foot wrong in the game with his well calculated tackles. Sundowns was forced to play from within because Nyauza and Matlaba close down their effective wing play.

Pirates dominated the engine room with Oupa Manyisa playing deep alongside Thandani Ntshumayelo to create more space for Mpho Makola with skilful Khethowakhe Masuku and tricky Sifiso Myeni completing the wings but the player who stole the show was my man of the match Makola who initiated and directed Pirates offensive moves with distinction.

Makola transitional movement coupled with movement on and off to the ball was exceptional. He demonstrated a rare ability of ball playing skills without losing focus and balance in the game. He was a livewire with array of mouth-watering and eye-pleasing skills. Sundowns never had any tactical plan to close him down due to his sizzling performance.

Manyisa did basics things in the game whilst Ntshumayelo had a good game but elapsing of concentration nearly affected his game after losing balls unnecessary at the danger zone but Lekgwathi calmed him down to have a decent game.

Myeni was a razor wire in the flesh of Sundowns defence with his blistering pace but his last ball was less impressive. Myeni head an improved game whilst Masuku had a decent first half but struggled to make an impact in the second half. Masuku needs to work hard on his defensive ability. He was not joining in defence when the team was under siege which put Nyauza under unnecessary pressure in the second half.

Helder Pelembe worked hard in the game but he was isolated upfront without adequate ball supply. Pirates dominated the engine room but didn’t create a lot of goalscoring opportunities for Pelembe. The lone striker tactic is limiting Pelembe’s striking ability.

Tactical discipline won Pirates the game however; the defence deserved more praise for solid performance with Meyiwa delivering an excellent and impressive performance but Makola stood the head and shoulders above the rest with first class performance.

By Owen Mundalamo
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