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COMMENT: Why declining Orlando Pirates only do well in Cups

12:05 GMT+3 20/05/2017
Mpho Makola of Orlando Pirates
Goal takes a look at the reasons why the Buccaneers do well in Cup competitions - particularly in SA's own version of the FA Cup, the Nedbank Cup

On Sunday, Orlando Pirates have an opportunity to book their place in the Nedbank Cup final for the second year running when they take on Lamontville Golden Arrows in a semi-final clash at the Princess Magogo Stadium.

Below, we take a look at some of the reasons why Bucs' declining performance in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has not affected their good form in Cup competitions in recent years:

Cup Pedigree

The Buccaneers are a different opponent in Cup matches - having reached the finals of a major competition in each of the last three years - thus proving their Cup pedigree.

However, the Soweto giants only have the 2014 Nedbank Cup to show for their efforts - which also remains the club's last major trophy triumph having won it under the guidance of former coach Vladimir Vermezovic.

On the other hand, the Bucs team finished the 2013/14 campaign in the fourth spot in the league, but they redeemed themselves by defeating Bidvest Wits in the Cup final.

Prior to that campaign, the Roger De Sa-coached Pirates had lost to Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the 2013 Caf Champions League final and they went on to finish third in the league.

Bucs continued to do relatively well in Cups despite their unsatisfactory performance in the domestic league as they secured a fourth spot finish during the 2014/15 campaign.

This was after the Buccaneers had reached the final of the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup where they narrowly lost to Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel under the guidance of the then caretaker coach.

However, last season, Pirates battled for a place in the top eight under Tinkler and ultimately finished seventh, yet they reached the Ke Yona final where they suffered a defeat to eventual winners, SuperSport United.

Element of Luck

Success in Cup competitions requires some element of luck and the draw has been kind to the Buccaneers in most instances over the years and they have made the most of that good fortune.

When they went all the way to lift the 2014 Nedbank Cup, the Buccaneers overcame National First Division (NFD) sides such as Thanda Royal Zulu and Santos FC.

Looking at this campaign, Bucs brushed aside ABC Motsepe outfit EC Bees, before beating Free State Stars as well as Bloemfontein Celtic.

Siwelele and Ea Lla Koto have struggled for the better part of the current season - which sees them battling to avoid relegation to the NFD at the moment.

Leadership and Experience

From the double treble winning Pirates squad, only Happy Jele and Oupa Manyisa are in the current squad, and both players have played a pivotal role in the team's progress in Cup competitions since 2013.

Although the duo have been a shadow of their former selves in the league, they have been instrumental in the Buccaneers' brilliant Cup run as they seem to up their game during such competitions.

Manyisa, the Pirates skipper and midfielder, featured in all of their five games during their successful 2014 Nedbank Cup campaign, while Bucs defender and vice-captain Jele missed only one game.

Both players remain key for Bucs coach Kjell Jonevret in their quest to end the season with a trophy - having featured in all three matches thus far.


Good Cups teams are usually not troubled by change. They always ensure that they adapt to the conditions whether they are playing at home or away and Pirates have been no different.

Eleven of Bucs' last 15 Nedbank Cup matches were away from home. The Buccaneers have remarkably won nine matches and tasted defeat twice in this competition.


Pirates players seem to be prioritizing Cup success over league glory. They have shown more commitment in Cup games and there could be only one explanation for this - such tournaments are a short cut to glory and bonuses for players.

For example, one of Bucs' key attacking midfielders, Mpho Makola has been one of the most outstanding players in this year's Nedbank Cup - having picked up two Man of the Match awards in the tournament.

It won't come as a surprise to some if Bucs show more hunger and determination against Abafana Bes'thende, who are coached by the former Pirates midfielder in Clinton Larsen and ultimately, book their place in this year's final where they would face the winner between SuperSport and Chippa United in Durban on Saturday, June 24.