JOHANNESBURG – When will ‘finishing specialist’ Stephane Adam finally earn his paycheck at Orlando Pirates? That was the question on the lips of many Buccaneers supporters as they watched their team squander chances here on Wednesday night in their Absa Premiership clash against Bidvest Wits.
Frenchman Adam was appointed to work on the club’s end product in the final third at the beginning of this month, but so far his contribution is yet to be evident.
Of course ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ as the old adage goes, but football supporters are an impatient and fickle bunch.
What has added to their frustration has been the hype around this Pirates team, which finished runners-up in the championship race last season.
Expectations, with the beefing of the technical team – Adam among the list of new arrivals – is at an all-time high. The Buccaneers have not won a trophy in four years.
The talking had to come to an end after what looked to be a solid pre-season and necessary reinforcements in the playing personnel were made.
However, their opening game was an anticlimax as Pirates were held to a 1-1 draw by newly promoted side Highlands Park at this very stadium. The visitors’ goal came courtesy of goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, who, in an attempt to adapt to the modern way of goalies using their feet from time to time, guided the ball into his own net and put Pirates on the backfoot to have to come from behind.
And when they did, it was through a penalty kick – not a lot of finishing work required there unfortunately.
Then the Buccaneers travelled to Port Elizabeth to face Chippa United, where they came back with all three points. Again they struggled to find the back of the net, an own goal proving enough for coach Micho Sredojevic to claim his first win of the 2018-19 season.
More recently, Pirates returned to their home ground here to host SuperSport United in the MTN8 quarterfinals, but were eliminated on penalties following a 2-2 draw. While they were able to convert some of their chances this time around, they missed plenty, too.
You could hear a pin drop here when Haashim Domingo came off the bench, snuck behind the Pirates defence to give Wits the lead with ten minutes left on the clock, the goal that virtually become the winner.
The game itself looked like it was headed for a stalemate even though the home side had more chances than their on-form opponents. The Clever Boys came into the fixture on the back of two emphatic wins over Free State Stars and Kaizer Chiefs, in which they scored a total of six goals and conceded only once.
Wits kept their shape and structure and forced Pirates to only attempt to strike from range. But when striker Justin Shonga found an opening in their box thanks to an error by leftback Sifiso Hlanti, he couldn’t ‘finish’.
Adam must have been appalled – Shonga only had keeper Darren Keet to beat, but shot right at him and squandered a glorious opportunity to give Pirates the lead.
It was left to 23-year-old Domingo to show them how it’s done as he single-handedly created something out of nothing and squeezed the ball past Keet’s counterpart Siyabonga Mpontshane for Wits to make it three wins in succession and top the Premier League table.
The results from the Orlando stadium:
Orlando Pirates (0) 0
Bidvest Wits (0) 1 (Domingo 80')