JOHANNESBURG – The Buccaneers’ misfiring ways saw them fall behind even more in their own targets with a goalless draw against Abafana Bes’thende.
Orlando Pirates have collected 15 points in 11 matches, which puts them way behind in their target of amassing at least 10 points in each set of five games in their 30 Absa Premiership matches.
The Buccaneers are without a win in six matches in the league, with their last victory coming all the way back in September.
This poor run is due to their misfiring ways as they create enough chances to collect maximum points, but they don’t take them.
The more they miss, the more their confidence takes a knock, which results in them getting anxious in front of goal.
This means more work for Pirates coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, who said his biggest task when he arrived was to improve the players’ confidence, especially the defenders, who shipped 40 goals last season.
Micho: “We tried to go through the middle when Qalinge had a good run, and Morrison in the 2nd when he looked to Matlaba. We even tried to counter press. It was not easy to penetrate”
Whatever the Serbian has done has worked, as the defenders looked solid, but he now needs to do that to the club’s misfiring attacking players.
Sredojevic started with Jackson Mabokgwane in goal to give him his second appearance this season in place of Wayne Sandilands, who picked up an injury with Bafana Bafana in their back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Senegal.
Mabokgwane’s other start came against Golden Arrows in the Telkom Knockout in Durban, where he also kept a clean-sheet.
He didn’t have much to do for the better part of Tuesday night’s match as Arrows didn’t trouble him, even though they looked threatening with their pace on the counter-attack.
Micho: “We need to learn to make the Law of Averages work to our advantage. If we get one chance we need to create 10 extra chances so that one of them can get in. If we have two chances we must create a further 20”
When they tested him, Mabokgwane was up for the challenge to keep his second clean-sheet.
The speed of the Durban side’s wingers and fullbacks is one of their biggest weapons. They draw their opponents to get sucked in by pinning them back before responding swiftly with a counter.
Arrows were only let down by the final touch that allowed Mabokgwane and his defenders to easily clean up.
Kudakwashe Mahachi took on the hosts, but Knox Mutizwa failed to capitalise on the opportunities his Zimbabwean countryman created for him.
Micho: “It’s a wider problem of scoring in this country, and I say that with the utmost respect. I’ve been to 138 countries around the world & I’ve never seen the amount of chances not taken as in South Africa”
It wasn’t through a lack of trying, though. Mutizwa showed good composure inside the box, but he couldn’t beat Mabokgwane.
The Buccaneers also had problems of their own, with their skilful and fast attack. Thabo Qalinge dribbled past the entire Arrows’ defence, only to fail to beat Nkosingiphile Gumede and his large frame.
Despite his talent, Qalinge still needs refining in his game – especially his finishing, which would make him an even bigger threat.
Pirates gave away possession cheaply to allow the visitors breathing space in a match the Buccaneers controlled.
Larsen: “People talk of parking the bus & negative football but tonight wasn’t the case. We know Pirates like to play on the counter & our plan was to stop that. We did just that”
It was a disappointing display for the two teams, who had a lot to play for.
A win for Arrows would have seen them go to No 1 after Baroka FC were held to a 1-1 by Cape Town City earlier in the Mother City.
But the Buccaneers needed the win the most after going five matches without a victory in the league.
It’s a dry spell that serves to remind the club that even though they are on the right path, they are still far from being championship contenders. Their poor performance in front of goal has been their Achilles’ heel.