Johannesburg – A late brace from Lehlohonolo Majoro powered Orlando Pirates into the MTN8 final after a 3-1 second-leg victory over Wits at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
The Buccaneers marched into their second consecutive final berth in the cup competition with a 5-1 aggregate win over the Clever Boys.
Kermit Erasmus opened the scoring in the 53rd minute after a sensational individual run into a retreating Wits defence. Wits pulled level after Getaneh Kebede won and converted a penalty kick in the 76th minute.
Majoro's first goal was a powerful volley shot in the 84th minute after an error in the backline from Wits. The striker completed his brace in the 90th minute when he neatly beat the offside trap and chipped over Wits goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane.
The Students entered the tie with the daunting task of overcoming a two-goal deficit after their first-leg loss. Overturning that result was a tough ask, and for Wits it proved a bridge too far.
In the past 12 months, Pirates have reached the final of each and every tournament in which they have taken part Ä the MTN8
(twice), Telkom Knockout, Caf Champions League and Nedbank Cup.
Wits have once again found Pirates to be a huge stumbling block in their pursuit of success. Last time the two clubs met in the Nedbank Cup final in May, the Buccaneers triumphed 2-0.
Wits looked like a well-drilled outfit in the opening exchanges Äenjoying a sustained period of ball dominance in the opposition's half. Two early successive scoring chances from Vincent Pule and Buhle Mkhwanazi could have easily seen Wits level the tie.
Winger Pule pounced on a tantalising high cross into the penalty box in the third minute, but his side footer was miscued and whizzed over the target.
The university club's second chance came from defender Mkhwanazi, who outmuscled Pirates' captain Siyabonga Sangweni to a clear header that went wide of the upright in the 11th minute.
The Clever Boys imposed themselves early on in the encounter, playing a defensive line near the centre of the pitch. The visitors played the off-side trap, with Pirates having been caught out a number of times within the first 30 minutes.
However, Wits were walking a tightrope with the off-side trap, as some calls looked too close for comfort. They were only spared because Pirates' striker Erasmus mistimed two tight runs which, had he timed them better, would have seen him one-on-one with goalkeeper Mabokgwane.
Newly signed winger Sameehg Doutie was a live-wire for Wits' coach Gavin Hunt and looked to play the role of the tactical ace in the pack.
Doutie, who signed from SuperSport United, was thrown straight into the line-up a day after completing his switch and was an industrious figure who kept Pirates on their toes Ä defending and attacking when called upon.
Erasmus caught the Wits' defence out of position and attacked the retreating opposition defence in the 39th minute but shot wide. But, after the restart in the second half, Erasmus made no mistake after he once again broke free of the Wits defence and took on defender Kees Kwakman head-on.
The Clever Boys had the better of the scoring chances, but their failure to convert cost them. It left them trailing despite a plethora of opportunities. – Sapa