Jali sends Bucs into TKO final

2013-11-23 17:33
Andile Jali (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates beat SuperSport United 2-1 after extra time in a gruelling Telkom Cup semi-final at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday afternoon.

The Buccaneers had shaded Supersport via a penalty shoot-out in the MTN8 Cup semi-final earlier in the season and it seemed the game was heading in the same direction as the teams remained level at 1-1 well into extra-time.

But a stunning, close-range winning goal from enterprising midfielder Andile Jale in the 110th minute, after inter-passing between Collins Mbesuma and Tlou Segolela had split the SuperSport defence, ensured that Pirates did not need to go into the nerve-wracking lottery of a penalty shoot-out on this occasion.

The hard-earned victory gained for the Buccaneers their third Cup Final appearance of the season, after losing to Egypt's Al Ahly in the two-leg Caf Champions League final and going down to Platinum Stars in the MTN8 Final - with third time lucky now very much on the minds of everyone in the Pirates' camp.

On a steamy, energy-sapping afternoon, the difference between the two sides ultimately appeared to be the extra sharpness and match-fitness that Pirates gained in the past couple of months as a result of reaching Caf's Champions League final.

However, it was SuperSport who forged into an early lead when towering 1.94-metre Senegal striker Mame Niang headed the ball into the net in typical fashion in the 12th minute following a precise cross from Thuso Phala. Supersport defended stoically for the remainder of the opening half and worried Pirates with several sharp counter-attacks.

But SuperSport slipped up immediately after the interval when they seemed to come back onto the pitch lacking in a measure of concentration, with Pirates taking full advantage with a snappy 46th minute equaliser

Segolela and Luyande Bacela split the SuperSport defence with precise inter-passing and Oupa Manyisa was on hand to equalise from close-range.

SuperSport came within a whisker of regaining the lead in the 71st minute when the dangerous Niang headed the ball into the net for a second time, but he appeared centimetres off-side and the goal was disallowed.

Pirates at this stage were playing with more verve and cohesion and only one of the PSL saves of the season from Rowen Fernandez in the SuperSport goal prevented substitute Collins Mbesuma from scoring.

Mbesuma also struck the post in the 101st minute with a fierce ground shot and shook his head in disbelief over the richochted ball not crossing the goalline.

Former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Fernandez came on to the field in the 26th minute as a substitute for the incapacitated Rowen Williams and was a tower of strength in the SuperSport defence - thwarting Pirates on several occasions with instinctive saves.

But Fernandez had no chance with Jale's cunning shot that earned his team a much-sought victory and the accolade of "Man of the Match" as an additional honour.

Read more on:    orlando ­pirates  |  cup  |  telkom  |  andile jali  |  soccer

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