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How Orlando Pirates lost the Nedbank Cup final to SuperSport United

4:46 PM SGT 26/6/17
SuperSport United, Dove Wome
Bucs went into the encounter in Durban as slight favourites given their history and cup pedigree, but they were taught a hard lesson by Matsatsantsa

Orlando Pirates put in a performance worse than Kjell Jonevret could have imagined. The team was sloppy and hardly looked threatening to SuperSport United.

Everyone knew what the stakes were. A piece of silverware on the Bucs' 80th anniversary would have been a cherry on top. All they had to do was prepare well, tire SuperSport players, who have been busy playing in the Caf Confederation Cup, out and score goals, but they did the opposite.

Here’s the post mortem of what cost the Buccaneers the trophy they won in 2014. 


Bucs coach Jonevret had almost a month to get his defence into shape for the final, and knowing how deadly Matsatsantsa’s attackers were, he needed to come up with an effective way of thwarting them.

He opted for the tried and tested, with Happy Jele and Abbubaker Mobara at centre-back positions, and Thabo Matlaba and Patrick Phungwayo on the right and left hand sides of the back four respectively.

But that move often backfired during the course of the season, and less did Jonevret know that this was a bad idea from the start as his defensive wall was often caught out positions, especially in the second half.

Rotating goalkeepers has also not helped the team, and although Siyabonga Mpontshane looked impressive at first, he still couldn’t communicate effectively to his back four and he was badly exposed.

Looking back, when Pirates lost 6-1 to SuperSport, Brighton Mhlongo was in between the sticks, then came in Jackson Mabokgwane in that humiliating 6-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns.

Lack of cohesion and passion.


The majority of the players in the current squad appear to have lost the passion required to play and represent millions of Pirates supporters out there.

There were some individual brilliance from certain players, including Oupa Manyisa, who stood firm and controlled that midfield in the opening stages of the game, but his teammates didn’t come to the party and everyone started playing on their own.

That’s when they started making mistakes, forgetting that they are playing a good side in SuperSport, and they paid the price when the defending champions took control of the game and utilized the amount of space Pirates gave them in midfield.  

Dean Furman and Reneilwe Letsholonyane orchestrated the win, bringing experience and stamina to close down Pirates players through the middle and quickly spread important passes in the final third where they were blue shirts. 

United relied on their pacey wingers and always had a player - either Jeremy Brockie and Bradley Grobler - in the penalty box, which made them easy for for them to take their chances. They enjoyed working together to down Pirates, and everyone wanted to contribute towards every attack the team launched.


Some would blame Pirates’ loss to the fact that they had not played competitive football in almost a month, but while it sounds legitimate, it also sounds like a lame excuse to those who have been complaining about mental and physical fatigue.

The players suffered a lot emotionally and needed the break to recharge the batteries and come back stronger. They had the chance to punish SuperSport, who have been playing non-stop in recent months, but failed to use that to their advantage.

So, Pirates players cannot claim to have been rusty at all, because in fact they had a clear advantage over their Tshwane opponents. The momentum of playing almost every week carried Matsatsantsa through, and that extra motivation to want to be the first team to defend the Nedbank Cup and give Baxter the perfect send – off.