Pirates begin with derby win over Swallows

Orlando Pirates opened their 2022-23 DStv Premiership campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Soweto derby rivals Swallows FC at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Buccaneers’ first competitive match under new coach Jose Riveiro was decided by an early goal from new signing Bienvenu Eva Nga, the highlight of an impressive first-half performance in which they dominated with a display of attractive and progressive football.

Yet Riveiro will be far less happy with a scrappy second half in which the Birds were much more threatening and should have been awarded a penalty.

Pirates created a few threatening moments in the opening minutes, the best of which saw Eva Nga flash a shot over the crossbar after a fine through ball from Kabelo Dlamini.

However, the Buccaneers’ pressure in attack paid off in the 10th minute when Dlamini, seemingly looking to shoot, saw his effort deflect off a defender and fall kindly for Eva Nga, who provided a crisp finish on the half-volley to find the bottom corner and put the hosts 1-0 up.

The team in black continued to pin the Birds back and searched for a second goal through the course of the first half, with the lively Dlamini notably striking an effort across the face of goal on 34 minutes.

Swallows, aside from a couple of times when they were able to put the ball into the hosts’ penalty area from set pieces, provided almost nothing in attack and were flattered by being only one goal down at the halftime interval.

The Birds were much more progressive early in the second stanza, with Tshediso Patjie dragging a shot wide of the mark for their first attempt at a goal, while Tlakusani Mthethwa made his long-awaited return from injury by replacing Gregory Damons.

Yet Pirates soon clicked back into attack mode and should have doubled their lead in the 51st minute when a ball dragged across the back picked out Deon Hotto, but his shot with his weaker right foot was straight at goalkeeper Thakasani Mbanjwa.

The Birds had a first shot on target on 56 minutes when Lindokuhle Mtshali cracked a left-footed volley goalwards, but Richard Ofori made a sharp save to keep the home side ahead, while a 64th minute counter for the Buccaneers saw Eva Nga miss out on a glorious chance for a second goal with a miscued shot on the edge of the box.

With just under 20 minutes to play Swallows were denied a clear penalty when Patjie was tripped up by Nkosinathi Sibisi, with an immediate counter attack then seeing Thembinkosi Lorch denied one-on-one by Mbanjwa.

Swallows had further chances to level the game which they failed to capitalise on, leaving Pirates relieved to claim a victory in which they showed both enormous promise and worrying vulnerabilities.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming midweek, with Swallows hosting Cape Town City on Tuesday and Pirates visiting Stellenbosch FC the following day.

Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Eva Nga 10’)

Swallows FC 0

Orlando Pirates:Ofori, Xoki (Ndah 78’), Sibisi, Maela, Monyane, Mosele, Monare (Makaringe 78’), Hotto, Lorch, Dlamini (Motshwari 61’), Eva Nga (Lepasa 78’)

Swallows:Mbanjwa, Damons (Mthethwa 46’), Sasman, Sait, Khupe (Musonda 90+1’), Zulu, Mngonyama, L. Mtshali (Mbhele 74’), Wambi, Patjie (Amoojee 90+1’), Isaacs (S. Mtshali 82’)