Orlando Pirates maintained their recent dominance over Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs by claiming a 2-1 win in the teams’ Telkom Knockout semifinal at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Justin Shonga scored the decisive goal for the Buccaneers, who will go on to face either Baroka FC or Bidvest Wits (who face off in the second semifinal on Sunday) in the final in Port Elizabeth on December 8.
Chiefs had the first sight of goal in the eighth minute, with Dumisani Zuma’s goal-bound chip turned away in unconvincing fashion by goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane.
Pirates then turned on the style to claim the lead on 13 minutes. Mabokgwane’s long clearance was missed by Mario Booysen, allowing Vincent Pule to sprint free down the right flank – he in turn played a superb low cross with the outside of his left foot which was turned home by Thembinkosi Lorch.
Yet the Buccaneers’ lead lasted just five minutes: a long pass into their penalty area was dealt with by neither Happy Jele nor his goalkeeper, allowing Leonardo Castro to sneak in between and touch the ball past Mabokgwane to make it 1-1.
After an open and expansive opening quarter, the match became much more cagey in the remainder of the first half. The Amakhosi enjoyed more of the ball, while Bucs looked livelier in attack, but the score remained level to the halftime break.
The team in black initially struggled to find their attacking rhythm in the second half, but they soon clicked through the gears and began to threaten Chiefs’ goal, with the spark coming around the hour mark when Pule showed great skill to open space in the penalty area and fire a ball across the face of goal which was narrowly missed by Justin Shonga.
Yet the Zambian would have a key role to play late in the game, as he put Pirates back in front in the 84th minute. A sustained attack ended with Augustin Mulenga crossing for Shonga, whose initial acrobatic attempt saw the ball smothered under his own feet – yet he recovered quickly, slipped past a challenge and found the back of the net with a low shot.
Chiefs had a great chance to level the game for a second time when a cross found the head of Castro just a couple of metres away from goal, but the usually reliable striker put his header over the crossbar.
Even further drama followed in the final seconds of injury time when a close-range header from Booysen was just about kept out by Mabokgwane, sending Pirates to a famous victory and a 50-50 chance of claiming the second piece of silverware on offer in the 2018/19 season.
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Castro 18’)
Orlando Pirates (1) 2 (Lorch 13’, Shonga 84’)
Chiefs: Khune, Mphahlele, Booysen, Ngezana, Walusimbi, Katsande, Maluleka, Billiat, Manyama (Parker 68’), Zuma (Mahlasela 87’), Castro
Pirates: Mabokgwane, Munetsi, Jele, Maela, Mbekile, Nyatama, Mlambo, Pule (Makola 90+1’), Kutumela (Mulenga 68’), Lorch (Da Silva 90+4’), Shonga