In-form Orlando Pirates close gap on PSL top three with Marumo Gallants win ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns clash

Deon Hotto of Orlando Pirates challenged by Mpho Mvelase of Marumo Gallants, January 2023Backpagepix
  • Saleng broke the deadlock before Ndlondlo sealed Bucs' win
  • It is the Buccaneers' third successive win in the league 
  • Pirates are now a point behind the top three teams on the PSL log

WHAT HAPPENED? The Buccaneers completed a league double over Bahlabane Ba Ntwa in a game played at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, as the Soweto giants had defeated the Limpopo side 1-0 in August.
It took 36 minutes for Pirates to break Gallants' stubborn defence as Terrence Dzvukamanja set up Monnapule Saleng, who netted his seventh goal of the season across all competitions.
Sipho Chaine was never seriously tested in the Bucs goal in the first-half as the hosts were poor in the final third - giving away possession cheaply during their build-up play.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 68th minute after they were awarded a penalty. Bandile Shandu was fouled in the box by Lebohang Mabotja, who pushed the Bucs full-back from behind.
Former Gallants star Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo made no mistake from the penalty spot as he beat goalkeeper Ismail Watenga to seal Pirates' well-deserved 2-0 win on the night - Bucs winning three league matches in a row for the first time since 2020.
Relegation-threatened Gallants extended their winless run to eight matches in the league and they remain 16th on the standings.

ALL EYES ON: Dzvukamanja, with the 28-year-old attacker being handed his first start of the season - getting the nod ahead of fan-favourite Kermit Erasmus
The Zimbabwe international was deployed as a false nine and he flourished in this position. 
Dzvukamanja created problems for the Gallants centre-backs who were dragged out of position by the Bucs player, leaving space behind for the likes of Saleng and Deon Hotto to attack.
The left-footed player provided the assist for Saleng's goal after he cut inside.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The win saw Pirates remain fifth on the standings, but they are now a point behind third-placed SuperSport United and two points behind second-placed Richards Bay.
Bucs are 27 points behind log leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns with the Soweto giants' hopes of challenging for the league championship slowly fading away as Masandawana look unstoppable at the moment.
However, a top two finish is more realistic for the Buccaneers as SuperSport and Richards Bay have been inconsistent lately. 

WHAT IS NEXT FOR PIRATES? Bucs will be hoping to maintain their great form by defeating Sundowns at Orlando Stadium on February 4.
The last time Pirates secured a win over Masandawana in the league was in January 2020 and since then they have recorded one draw and five defeats against the Tshwane giants.

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