Baroka FC 0-0 Orlando Pirates: Bucs' top two hopes hit after goalless draw in Polokwane
Deon Hotto, Orlando Pirates & Manuel Kambala, Baroka FC, April 2022
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Deon Hotto was Bucs' livewire in the first half, but the Namibia international was neutralised by Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele after the restart

Orlando Pirates' ambitions of finishing in the top two in the PSL took a knock when they drew 0-0 with Baroka FC in a match that was played at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night.

Tshegofatso Mabasa was rewarded with a starting berth after he came off the bench to provide the assist for Pirates' late winning goal against Sekhukhune United in a PSL encounter on April 6. The Buccaneers were looking to extend their unbeaten run to six matches across all competitions.

On the other hand, Baroka were desperate to end their three-match winless run having recorded their third successive loss when they 1-0 to Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup clash on Saturday. Manuel Kambala and Train Mokhabi were among the players who were recalled to Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele's starting line-up. 

Baroka controlled the proceedings in the opening stages with Pirates happy to sit back and launch quick counterattacks through the likes of Mabasa, Siphesihle Ndlovu, Deon Hotto and Kabelo Dlamini. Kambale was afforded space to pull the trigger from range and the Mozambique international forced goalkeeper Richard Ofori into a fine diving save.

Pirates improved gradually as they began surging forward in numbers - pressing the hosts' defence and they were awarded a free-kick in a promising area after Ndlovu was fouled. The Soweto giants' set-piece specialist Hotto stepped up and hit the upright from the set-piece, before Goodman Mosele netted from the rebound, but the latter was ruled offside.  

Hotto was the visitors' brightest spark and he delivered two top-notch crosses for Ndlovu and Mabasa, who both failed to hit the target from close range. The score was 0-0 during the half-time break with the Buccaneers finishing the first half the stronger of the two teams, but they couldn't find the back of the net.

Baroka started the second half exactly as they started the first half and they had an opportunity to take the lead after the visitors' defence was exposed. Dan Ndlovu unleashed a low shot which was superbly saved by Ofori, who also gathered a free-kick attempt from Sekela Sithole with ease.

With pressure mounting on their side, co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davis made changes, introducing Wayde Jooste, Thembinkosi Lorch, Kwame Peprah and Fortune Makaringe, who had come off the bench to score the winning goal against Sekhukhune and he would have been hoping to replicate the same exploits.

Pirates bombarded the hosts with long balls and crosses in the closing stages of the game searching for Peprah, who headed Lorch's cross inches wide of the target. However, play was stopped in stoppage time after Paseka Mako sustained what looked like a serious injury after colliding with his teammate Ofori and ultimately, the game ended in a -0-0 draw after the Pirates full-back was taken to hospital.

As a result, Bucs moved up to fourth place on the league standings as their hopes of finishing in the top two took a knock - missing an opportunity to climb up to the third spot with a win over Baroka. The Soweto giants will now take on Simba of Tanzania in the Caf Confederation Cup match on Sunday.