Orlando Pirates off to winning start in 2018

Orlando Pirates got their New Year off to a great start as they defeated Baroka FC 3-1 in an Absa Premiership clash at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

An early header from Musa Nyatama was joined by a brace from the excellent Luvoyo Memela as the Buccaneers moved into fifth place on 23 points from 16 matches (level with fourth-placed Kaizer Chiefs), pushing Bakgaga down to sixth on 22 from 16.

Pirates were quick out of the blocks and claimed the lead as early as the sixth minute, with Musa Nyatama getting on the end of Luvoyo Memela’s cross to head home from close range.

On the quarter hour mark another corner kick from Memela picked out defender Innocent Maela, but his glancing header rebounded off the far post and away to safety.

Yet in the 19th minute the Buccaneers doubled their lead, with Justin Shonga and Thabiso Kutumela combining to tee up Memela, who easily fired home from close range to make it 2-0.

Just under 10 minutes later it was 3-0, with Memela netting his second of the night. This time he exchanged passes with Thabo Matlaba on the edge of the box before shooting beyond the reach of goalkeeper Virgil Vries.

Baroka appeared to be down and out, but on the half hour mark they were thrown a lifeline when Gladwin Shitolo brought down Lucky Nguzana with a clumsy foul to concede a penalty.

Mduduzi Mdantsane converted from the spot to pull one back for Bakgaga, though he was soon substituted by the more attack-minded Talent Chawapiwa.

Just a few minutes into the second half Nyatama almost scored a carbon-copy of the goal he netted in the first, though this time his header was straight at the ‘keeper, who did just enough to keep the effort out.

Pirates ran out of steam as the second half wore on, with their midfield struggling to reassert the control they enjoyed in the first stanza, though they remained a dangerous prospect on the counter.

However, there were no further goals at either end of the field as Pirates ran out 3-1 winners to suggest that 2018 may be a more encouraging year for the ‘Happy People’.

Orlando Pirates (3) 3 (Nyatama 6’, Memela 19’ 28’)

Baroka FC (1) 1 (Mdantsane 30’ pen)

Pirates: Mabokgwane, Matlaba, Shitolo, Dube, Maela, Memela (Norodien 88’), Munetsi, Mobara, Nyatama, Kutumela (Foster 70’), Shonga (Maphanga 79’)

Baroka: Vries, Shaku, Mahashe, Moeti (Matloga 59’), Masenamela, Mothupa (Kgoetyane 52’), Nguzana, Kgaswane, Madubanya, Mdantsane (Chawapiwa 33’), Ngalande