Johannesburg — New season, new coach, new goal scorer! Orlando Pirates had a fine start to their DStv Premiership campaign on Saturday afternoon.
At a packed Orlando Stadium, Pirates ensured that they claimed Soweto’s bragging rights as they beat a coach-less Swallows side 1-0.
The crowd attendance was quite pleasing in a Soweto derby clash that was expected to set the tone of the new season for both teams.
After a disappointing end to their previous campaign, Pirates were eager to start life on a high note under new coach Jose Riveiro.
The Ghosts who were also starved of silverware by their team last season didn't disappoint as they came out in numbers, filling the first level.
But while Pirates had their house in order, not the same could be said for Swallows who were without their coaches in the dugout.
Coach Dylan Kerr and his assistant Fani Madida missed today’s match, with Musa Nyatama doubling up as a player-coach.
Swallows' chaos was good news to Pirates as they dominated from start to finish, drawing applause from the crowd with every positive move.
And unlike the Dube Birds who had six debutants, Riveiro kept the core of the team from last term as there were just three new faces in his starting line-up.
Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki got starting debuts in Pirates’ central defence, while Bienvenu Eva Nga also made his debut appearance.
Eva Nga didn’t waste time in introducing himself to the Ghost as he put the Bucs ahead in the 10th minute to send Orlando into a frenzy.
Kabelo Dlamini found a pocket of space inside the box as he teed up Eva Nga who placed a hard and low shot into the bottom corner.
That should have been the Cameroonian’s second goal of the afternoon had he not blazed an earlier effort over the crossbar.
After that goal, chances were few and far between for both sides. But Pirates continued to dominate possession, especially in the midfield.
Thabang Monare alongside Goodman Mosele dictating play and rotated the ball well, but they couldn’t break down the Swallows wall.
Pirates started the second half on a high note, with Thabiso Monyane posing a threat to Swallows left-back Tshidiso Patjie.
Monyane should have grabbed an assist early in the second stanza but Deon Hotto passed a loose ball into the hands of keeper Thakasani Mbanjwa.
Swallows' first real chance of the game fell to Lindokuhle Mtshali.
The former Golden Arrows man did well to get at the end of a loose ball on the edge of the box before forcing Richard Ofori into a great save.
With the game nearing its twilight, Eva Nga had a chance to get a brace on his debut. Thembinkosi Lorch sneaked the ball past his marker and into the path of Eva Nga who put his shot wide with just Mbanjwa to beat.
The Ghost didn’t take that well and rolled out the substitution sign. But Riveiro didn’t succumb to that, applauding the effort instead.