Wits advance in Nedbank Cup after beating Pirates in shootout
JOHANNESBURG – Gavin Hunt and Josef Zinnbaeur left Orlando Stadium on Sunday with more grey hairs and wrinkles than the ones they arrived with.
The supporters were put through an emotionally rollercoaster ride that probably led to a dash of anxiety meds in a match where both sets of teams experienced every emotion under the sun. There was happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger.
For the neutrals, there was just one emotion – joy and being thoroughly entertained. This match had it all; brilliant goals, two sending offs (Wits’ assistant coach Paul Johnstone and Elias Pelembe), plenty of yellow cards (including one for Zinnbauer), Victor Gomes hogging some of the limelight and a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
Ricardo Goss, who was brilliant in goal for Wits, begged Lorenzo Gordinho to put everyone out of their misery when he stepped to take the last penalty. Gordinho obliged, giving Wits a win in penalties and a place in the Nedbank Cup last 16 while handing Pirates’ their first loss under the German coach.
For a moment, Zinnbauer’s magical touch looked like it would continue, and Pirates would pull a rabbit out of the hat to produce a dramatic escape from the face of death. But Wits, who led 2-0 and then trailed 3-2, weren’t having it – exposing some of the Buccaneers’ defensive shortcomings that need to be addressed if they are to challenge for the championship.
FT| #TheCleverBoys are into the last-16 of the #NedbankCup following a 3-2 penalty shootout win over Orlando Pirates.— Bidvest Wits (@BidvestWits) February 9, 2020
It was 3-3 after extra-time:
(Lorch 69’ Jele 75’ Lepasa 105+4’ | Eva Nga 28’ Hotto 45’ Motupa 120+1’) #Nakanjani ⚪️🔵 pic.twitter.com/L4uyTkKeTy
Deon Hotto showed great strength and resilience to give Wits the second goal. The Namibian was brilliantly set-up by Ricardo Goss’ long pass that went over Siphesihle Ndlovu. The pintsized midfielder did everything he could to stop Hotto, even trying to pull him but the Namibian was too strong for Ndlovu. He powered his way past him and slotted the ball past Joris Delle from an awkward angle. Hotto’s strike was Wits’ second shot on target in the first half.
The first came from Bienvenu Eva Nga who gave Wits the lead from the penalty spot after Fortune Makaringe was judged to have handled the ball in the box. The Buccaneers had most of the ball and created the better clear-cut chances but Wits were the most effective.
Hunt’s team was well-structured and disciplined in their defending – hallmarks of the four-time league winning coach.
This approach frustrated Pirates and its supporters who lost their cool as their team huffed and puffed, only to get no joy from it while Wits looked like scoring every time they ventured forward.
The German’s impact was tested having masterminded a dramatic turnaround at the club, injecting energy and determination which has seen them bulldoze opponents and be a free-scoring sight. But against a stingy Wits’ defence, goals didn’t come by easily. Pirates had to work hard for them.
It took Thembinkosi Lorch’s brilliance to pull one back for the hosts and energise the crowd that had become deflated. Luvuyo Memela threaded an inch-perfect pass that Lorch rifled in the back of the net.
That goal also energised the Buccaneers who played like a team possessed. They piled on the pressure from Wits and the Clever Boys cracked when Happy Jele headed Pirates back into the match. Zakhele Lepasa sent this stadium to pandemonium when he coolly converted his penalty in extra time. Gift Motupa spoiled the party, coming back to torment his team with his late equaliser before Wits won it in penalties.