ORLANDO Pirates kept their season alive and will get the chance to set the record straight when they face holders SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup final at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on 24 June.
SuperSport will be the home side in the final. It will make for a case of déjà vu, as Bucs were beaten 3-2 in last year’s Nedbank Cup final by Matsatsantsa. They earned their place in this year’s final after a deserved 1-0 win in an exciting semifinal over Golden Arrows played at Kwa-Mashu’s Princess Magogo Stadium yesterday.
SuperSport edged Chippa United 4-2 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in East London on Saturday in the weekend’s other semifinal following a 0-0 draw after extra time.
The final will be Bucs’ chance to redeem themselves and salvage a poor season. It also automatically qualifies the winner for the Caf Confederation Cup, where Bucs reached the final in 2015.
Pirates, who have endured one of their worst seasons in decades and have failed to qualify for the top eight for the first time in the Premier Soccer League era, looked more like the Buccaneers of old yesterday, especially in the first half.
They played with purpose and took the initiative from the first whistle. Head coach Kjell Jonevret, who is the third to take charge of Bucs this season, showed his intent by fielding strikers Thamsanqa Gabuza and Dove Wome in a two-pronged attack backed up by an attacking midfield, where Mpho Makola and Thabo Rakhale were prominent, as was left-back Marc van Heerden. Van Heerden was dangerous on the overlap, keeping the Abafana Bes’thende defenders on their toes. Bucs kept up the pressure and were rewarded 11 minutes from the half-time break when Abbubaker Mobara headed home an inch-perfect Makola free kick.
The highlight of the second half was a verbal tussle between Jonevret and his opposite number at Arrows, Clinton Larsen.
Bucs keeper Jackson Mabokgwane made a couple of saves late in the game to help his side reach the final and get a chance to avenge last year’s defeat by SuperSport.
Bucs will travel back to Durban on Saturday to face Arrows for a second time inside six days for their final Absa Premiership clash. Arrows need to win to stand any chance of finishing in the top eight.