Orlando Pirates 2–0 Manchester City
Orlando Pirates locked horns with Manchester City in the
opening game of the Vodacom Challenge today at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in
Polokwane. The Citizens have arrived in South Africa to take on the two Soweto
giants, Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs in the pre-season tournament, to get their
side ready for the Premier League season ahead.
Meanwhile the Buccaneers used this game to prepare for their
grueling shortened season as well, with a number of new players being introduced
in the match from both sides. The fans in the Peter Mokaba Stadium were keen to
see the English Premier League side coming up against the Buccaneers, welcoming
the players onto the pitch with the vuvuzelas that have become so famous in
The game got underway with both teams boasting their new
kits for the season ahead in Polokwane. An early chance fell to Pirates, but
Stuart Taylor was on his toes and he saved easily. It was obvious from early on
that a great deal of the play would take the form of midfield battles between
the two sides. A confident looking Pirates side were pushed forward by the
Polokwane support, but they struggled to pass the stubborn City defence.
In the 7th minute a quick counter attack from the
Citizens almost resulted in a goal, as a cross to Bellamy was just out of
reach, but his pressure forced Pirates captain Lekgwathi into clearing
dangerously close to his goal line. A few minutes later Lekgwathi had a long
range effort for the Bucs, but his shot was off target and did not worry
Taylor. A minute later Bojinov should have put Manchester City ahead, as a
bouncing cross found the player alone in front of Josephs, but his finish let
him down and the Pirates keeper parried. Soon after that scare, a fantastic
long range volley from Weiss went agonizingly wide for the visiting English
side, before Mahamutsa did well to block Michael Johnson’s diagonal shot.
Taylor looked solid in the City goal, but Pirates were not
able to get to the former Arsenal keeper as much as they would have liked. In
the 26th minute a mazy run down the left wing caused problems for
the City defence, but before he could do anything useful with his attack, Ben
Haim did well to poke the ball to safety. Captain Stephen Ireland worked tirelessly
in the midfield, leading by example and launching a few dangerous attacks for
Manchester City. After end-to-end stuff in the early stages, neither side could
find a shot on goal around the half hour mark.
In the 35th minute Pirates took the lead, as the
Bucs were awarded a penalty following a foul from Ben Mee on Frank Olivier, and
defender Lucas Thwala coolly slotted past Taylor in the Citizens goal. The fans
reacted to the goal with celebrations, as the singing and dancing in the stands
continued to inspire the Pirates players. City’s reply was a fantastic strike
from Bojinov five minutes later, as the striker forced Josephs into a fine
diving save to deny the Citizens from scoring.
In typical Bellamy style, the
Welshman received a yellow card shortly before the break after constant
complaints towards the ref received an official reply. After a few seconds of
injury time, both sides went into the break with Pirates in the lead.
In the second half of the game, Benjani and Vidal came onto
the pitch for Manchester City, while Pirates introduced Kamwendo, Mabena,
Mongale and Jali to the mix. Few chances fell to the two sides in the early
exchanges, with the new faces trying to gel with those already on the pitch in
the first half. Manchester City moved slowly in the midfield, looking as though
they were waiting for something to happen, rather than making it happen
themselves. Pirates coach Ruud Krol sat on the bench, watching closely and
quietly, as Mark Hughes looked disappointed with his charges.
In the 55th minute, substitute Mongale unleashed a
fantastically precise shot from the left wing, as his effort floated over
Taylor and into the City goal of the post for Pirates’ second of the encounter.
A few minutes later Pirates were once again on the attack, but Taylor did well
to come off his line and deny the Bucs a third goal. The South African team
grew in confidence as time went on, and Manchester City seemed to resign to a
loss, with little effort being made in attack.
In the 66th minute the Citizens had a free kick
in a dangerous area on the right wing, but the resulting cross saw Pirates
clear their lines and go onto a quick counter attack, before Ben Haim put a
stop to it. With twenty minutes remaining, Hughes put Nigel De Jong and Felipe
Caicedo onto the pitch in an effort to change the flow of the game and get back
into it, and it had an immediate affect, with City looking more threatening up
front, and the fresh legs helping to dominate possession for the first time in
the game. In the 73rd minute Kamwendo came out of nowhere to unleash
a fine volley from distance, which Taylor did very well to block.
The vuvuzelas grew louder as full time approached, with the
fans sensing that a historic win was on the cards. Pirates did well to regain
possession, and pass the ball around in a manner that frustrated the tired
Manchester City players. Rather than moving forward, the Bucs held possession
in midfield, knowing that holding onto a 2-0 lead was not an impossible task. Despite that manner of thinking, the Soweto side managed to hit the post in the 85th minute thanks to a scramble in the City box and fine work by the Pirates attacking players.
After an entertaining first encounter in the Vodacom Challenge, Orlando Pirates completed a two-goal win over Manchester City, celebrating Nelson Mandela's birthday with a victory for the Buccaneers.
ORLANDO PIRATES 2–0 MANCHESTER CITY
GOALS: Thwala, Mongale (Pirates)
ORLANDO PIRATES: Josephs, Thwala, Makonese, Lekgwathi,
Mahamutsa, Mabalane, Chenene, Mthembu, Jali, Olivier, Kiaku.
MANCHESTER CITY: Taylor, Zabaleta, Ben-Haim, Mee, Garrido,
Weiss, Ireland, Johnson, Bojinov, Petrov, Bellamy.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com