Pirates down Lions to cruise into cup quarter-final

JAN Modise of Hungry Lions challenged by Tapelo Xoki and Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates during the 2024 Nedbank Cup match. | BackpagePix

JAN Modise of Hungry Lions challenged by Tapelo Xoki and Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates during the 2024 Nedbank Cup match. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 16, 2024



Monaheng (OG) 18’, Mabasa 66’, 90+5’ Saleng 72’


ORLANDO STADIUM – Makhehlene Makhaula’s first-half injury was the only pooper in Orlando Pirates’ party as the Sea Robbers cruised into the Nedbank Cup quarter-final last night.

Pirates hammered National First Division side Hungry Lions 4-0 in Orlando, having had to overcome the trauma of seeing teammate Makhaula sustain what looked like a seizure.

After a clearance, Makhaula fell to the turf as he needed medical attention which saw him breath through an oxygen pump and heavily strapped when he was stretchered off.

Pirates, who were already leading then, showed their mental strength in the second half as they wrapped up the tie in style, keeping their title defence alive.

With Pirates and Lions campaigning in the second-tier division and top-flight respectively, this clash had the possibility of being a potential banana skin for the Bucs.

But it wasn’t to be. Instead, Pirates sent a stern message to the rest of the seven teams they’ll meet in Monday’s quarter-final draw of their aim to defend their cup.

The tone of this result was set clear by a Bucs supporter who ate a bucket of Hungry Lion just as Lions were leaving the field after their pitch inspection.

Morena Monaheng gave the hosts a gift in the first half before Tshegofatso Mabasa’s brace and a solo goal from Man of Match Monnapule Saleng won the game.

The Sea Robbers had a dominant start, though, as coach Jose Riveiro made only four changes to the team that beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-2 in the derby last weekend.

These changes saw the return of Melusi Buthelezi between the sticks for the first time since he was hijacked and kidnapped two weeks ago.

Buthelezi didn’t have much to do in the first half, except to survive a scare after sustaining a knock on his head as he tried to block the visitors’ inroad.

His teammates, albeit dominant, uncharacteristically played long balls during the early stages, to the delight of the visitors who sat back and defended.

But Patrick Maswangayi proved just why he’d been Pirates’ best player this season. He directed traffic in the final third, hoping to exploit the pockets.

‘Tito’ was rewarded for his exploits as his timed pass towards Relebehile Mofokeng came off the knee of Monaheng, beating Glen Baadjies in goal.

That contribution didn’t only please the Ghost that filled this venue, but it must have pleased Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos as well.

Broos recently gave Maswanganyi his maiden call-up for the Fifa series pilot project, which will be held in Algeria in the next two weeks, amid his recent form.

Pirates had a bitter-sweet ending to the first half as they were leading, while still reeling over the nasty injury to midfielder Makhaula.

Things could have got better for Pirates and Maswanganyi in the early stages of the second half. A feat that could have all but seen them wrap up the tie early, Mofokeng missed a sitter from close-range before Yamkela Gamede got his marching orders after tripping Maswanganyi, who had a clear scoring opportunity.

Mabasa nearly converted the resultant free kick just outside the box before his effort came off the crossbar and was cleared by Lions.

Mabasa wouldn’t be denied his goal, though. After sizzling past Lions’ defence, he hit a shot that came off the underside of the upright and into the empty net.

That goal gave the Sea Robbers and Buthelezi some breathing space, the Pirates goalkeeper having had to make two quick saves before Mabasa’s strike.

But they weren’t done. Saleng joined in on the act for his third goal in a week before Mabasa’s screamer showed their strong mental shift after Makhaula’s first-half scare.