Soweto - Orlando Pirates felt the full extent of the void left by Senzo Meyiwa, after SuperSport United beat them 2-0 to power into the Telkom Knockout final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
United's win came courtesy of a Lebogang Manyama strike in the 21st minute and a Dove Wome goal in the 35th minute.
The Buccaneers began life without Meyiwa on a poor note as they were dumped out of the competition, and in so doing, failing to secure a sixth consecutive cup final berth.
The heavens opened and a downpour came down in the first half in Soweto.
It was also in that period that it rained goals for Matsatsantsa.
Meyiwa's death prompted Pirates to make some team changes, with Oupa Manyisa captaining the side while Brighton Mhlongo the starting goalkeeper.
The Knockout clash was Pirates’ first match without Meyiwa, who was shot dead a fortnight ago in Vosloorus.
Pirates had to put their emotions aside for 90 minutes and get back to the business at hand. The usual spring in their step was missing.
After all it was only two Saturdays ago, on the very same pitch that Meyiwa kept goals with aplomb for the Buccaneers in their 4-1 drubbing of Ajax Cape Town in the quarterfinals.
As early as the fifth minute, signs of a crack in the Pirates defence began to show. United were asking questions of Meyiwa’s replacement, with Thuso Phala and David Mathebula testing their range from outside the penalty area.
United showed no mercy on their opponents with two quick-fire goals before the half-hour mark. The United midfield, controlled by Thato Mokeke and Michael Morton, overpowered their counterparts and had better retention of the ball.
From the onset it was clear to see that Pirates were going to have a torrid time defending set-piece plays with their inexperienced goalkeeper, Mhlongo.
Pirates appeared aloof at times from the semi-final encounter - with the players failing to kick into first gear.
Meyiwa's death had been a double blow for the Soweto giants. Not only did they lose their best goalkeeper, but they lost their formidable captain.
Pirates' players were failing to connect with one another and mount a phase of play that would threaten United at the back.
Pirates striker Lehlohonolo Majoro tried to spur on his team-mates with energetic running, which resulted in a scoring opportunity that went wide.
Meanwhile United were having a field day at the expense of the Sea Robbers. The defence held firm while allowing the likes of Phala and Manyama to play an expansive style of football.