Pirates power into Nedbank Cup quarterfinals

Orlando Pirates have become the fourth team to advance into the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup after they came from a goal down to defeat Maritzburg United 3-1 at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Buccaneers have joined Black Leopards, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila and Cape Town All Stars in the next round, thanks to goals from Kabelo Dlamini, Deon Hotto and Vincent Pule. The Team of Choice’s opening goal was netted by former Pirates man Thabiso Kutumela.

Maritzburg created the first clear chance as early as the seventh minute, with Sibusiso Hlubi seeing his low shot from the left of the penalty area well saved by goalkeeper Richard Ofori, before the rebound was hacked away by Happy Jele – preventing Bongokuhle Hlongwane having a tap-in.

On nine minutes the hosts claimed the lead, with some slack defending from Thulani Hlatshwayo drawing Ofori way off his line – the ‘keeper was then caught in possession by Hlubi, before Thabiso Kutumela swept the ball into an empty net from 30 metres out to make it 1-0.

Maritzburg suffered an injury blow just past the midway point of the first half when Kwanda Mngonyama succumbed to a muscular issue on his left leg and was replaced by youngster Phiwayinkosi Zuma.

Pirates gradually began to assert themselves on the match as the half wore on, though they struggled to produce any threatening moments, with United goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt rarely called into any significant action as the halftime interval arrived with the home side 1-0 up.

The Buccaneers made a positive substitution at the start of the second stanza, withdrawing the defensive-minded Ben Motshwari for attacking midfielder Kabelo Dlamini. The former Bloemfontein Celtic man duly drew the visitors level on 56 minutes with a shot from just outside the ‘D’ which deflected off Clayton Daniels and had the beating of Engelhardt.

And just a minute later the Soweto side claimed the lead to complete a stunning turnaround: an attack down the right flank put Linda Mntambi into space and his ball across the face of goal was turned home at close range by Deon Hotto to make it 2-1 in favour of Pirates.

On 65 minutes a Team of Choice substitute, Jose Ali Meza, looked to level the game at two goals apiece but his beautifully-struck long-range effort was tipped over the crossbar by Ofori.

The game looked to be in the balance heading into the dying stages, but Bucs struck a killing blow on 78 minutes when Dlamini’s effort was palmed away by Engelhardt, but only as far as Vincent Pule, who showed great composure to beat the ‘keeper at his near post and make it 3-1.

The teams will shift focus back to the DStv Premiership this coming Tuesday, 2 March as Pirates play host to Bloemfontein Celtic and Maritzburg United welcome Black Leopards.

Maritzburg United (1) 1 (Kutumela 9’)

Orlando Pirates (0) 3 (Dlamini 56’, Hotto 57’, Pule 78’)

Maritzburg: Engelhardt, Ismail, Mngonyama (Zuma 26’), Daniels, Carnell, Hlubi (Meza 61’), Bhengu (Shandu 61’), Graham, Hlongwane, Tlolane, Kutumela (Sifama 88’)

Pirates: Ofori, Ndlovu, Jele, Hlatshwayo, Mako (Sam 90+4’), Motshwari (Dlamini 46’), Monare (Zungu 84’), Makaringe, Pule (Muwowo 84’), Hotto (Mundele 90+4’), Mntambo