JOHANNESBURG – Bernard Morrison kicked the Orlando Pirates door that was slowly shutting down his career wide open with a brace that saw the Sea Robbers sail to the Nedbank Cup last-16 at the expense of Ajax Cape Town with a 2-0 win on Saturday night.
It was sweet revenge for the Soweto giants, who were humiliated by the relegation-threatened Capetonians last month in the league.
Morrison played a starring role in avenging that defeat.
It was a timely brace for the Ghanaian, who looked like his days at the club were numbered as he has failed to make an impact since his much-publicised move from AS Vita two years ago.
The 24-year-old forward finished last season without a goal, assist nor performance worthy of the fanfare that surrounded his arrival at Pirates.
He has been slowly showing what he is made of this season, as Morrison’s speed and power make him a force once he has found his feet.
His contribution couldn’t have come at a more ideal time for the Buccaneers, whose camp resembles a hospital ward, which forced coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic to field a second-string team.
Mpho Makola, Abbubaker Mobara, Thabiso Kutumela and Jackson Mabokgwane were all out injured, while the club’s livewire in recent matches, Luvuyo Memela, passed a late fitness test, but only to start on the bench.
Those players’ absence created space for Marshall Munetsi, Issa Sarr, Morrison, Siyabonga Mpontshane and Thembinkosi Lorch to start.
Morrison led the Buccaneers’ three-pronged attack.
The Ghanaian forward needed to put in a shift to remind Sredojevic of his qualities as he has fallen down the pecking order, and things could be even worse with the arrival of Augustine Mulenga.
Morrison did just that by giving the Buccaneers the lead through a good team goal that was started by Lorch, before Justin Shonga cut the ball back for the on-rushing Ghanaian, who just had to direct it past an already beaten Jody February.
Shonga and Morrison also combined for the second goal that saw Morrison show off his power to muscle his way into the Urban Warriors’ box to complete his brace.
The Buccaneers put Ajax under pressure from the first minute, but the hosts didn’t mind.
They were prepared to sit back, absorb the pressure and hit Pirates on the counter-attack. This strategy worked in the Urban Warriors’ 3-0 Absa Premiership win over Pirates in the Mother City.
It almost worked here after Grant Margeman broke free, only to lay the ball behind Tendai Ndoro, who would have loved to score against his former team.
This was a reunion of some sort, with Ndoro and coach Muhsin Ertugral back to their old stomping ground.
The floodlights even set the mood when they went off just before the start of the match, creating a romantic atmosphere to remind the “exes” what they were missing just a couple of sleeps before Valentine’s Day.
It was a night that Ndoro and Ertugral will like to forget quickly – not only because of the loss, but also because of how Pirates toyed with Ajax once they had a two-goal cushion.
Xola Mlambo started the show that saw even Morrison join in the party to show off his skills.
What should make Sredojevic happy is that the Buccaneers dominated their opponents despite making six changes to the starting XI.
This victory has taken the Serbian coach a step closer to getting his fourth national cup in four different countries.