Pirates’ slow start continues

Edgar Manaka & Kabelo Dlamini © Backpagepix

Orlando Pirates’ slow start to the 2021-22 season continued on Tuesday evening when they were held to a 0-0 draw in a DStv Premiership match by newcomers Marumo Gallants.

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The result at Peter Mokaba Stadium means the Buccaneers have now gone three competitive matches without a win at the start of the new campaign, with this stalemate following a defeat to Swallows FC in the MTN8 quarterfinals and a 2-2 draw in their league opener at home to Stellenbosch FC this past weekend.

As for Gallants, who took over Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila’s franchise, the draw earned them a first ever point in the top-flight league after losing to Baroka FC in their opener.

Both teams took their time settling into the game, with Pirates perhaps the more fluid in terms of passing and movement, though Gallants offered more of a goal threat in the opening quarter thanks to the movement and energy of new striker Sede Junior Dion.

Thabo Mnyamane was also an influential figure for Bahlabane ba Ntwa, notably playing in a couple of dangerous crosses which proved troublesome for Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori – though the Ghanaian did not have an actual save to make throughout the 90 minutes.

Pirates struggled to bring their attackers into the game, with their only effort on target in the first half coming from Frank Mhango, but it was easily saved by Gallants ‘keeper Washington Arubi. The interval saw the teams locked at 0-0.

Pirates made a change in attack at the start of the second half, replacing Mhango with Terrence Dzvukamanja, while Marumo waited until the hour mark to bring Joseph Molongoane and Katlego Otladisa off the bench to boost their offensive impetus.

It almost paid dividends just a few minutes later when Pirates failed to clear from a corner kick and Celimpilo Ngema latched onto the loose ball, sending a volley onto the angle of crossbar and upright – though Ofori did appear to have the effort covered had it been on target.

Pirates’ best chance arrived on 77 minutes when Kabelo Dlamini won possession high up the pitch and set up Deon Hotto with a one-on-one chance, but the Namibian was denied by a smothering save from Arubi, who came quickly off his line to close down the opportunity.

That proved to be the last major attacking moment at either end of the field, with Gallants and Pirates settling for a share of the spoils.

The teams will only return to DStv Premiership action after the impending international break, with Pirates at home to Swallows FC on September 11 and Gallants away to Cape Town City on September 15.

Marumo Gallants 0
Orlando Pirates 0

GALLANTS: Arubi, Hlatshwayo, Nkili, Nonyane, Ravhuhali, Mvelase (Molongoane 60’), Mnyamane, Manaka, Ngema, Ndlondlo, Dion (Otladisa 60’)

PIRATES: Ofori, Shandu (Tlolane 65’), Hlatshwayo, Jele, Hotto, Mabaso, Mosele, Zungu (Ndlovu 78’), Dlamini (Makgaka 82’), Pule (Mabasa 78’), Mhango (Dzvukamanja 46’)