Orlando Pirates defender Sam's rating goes up after Golden Arrows draw

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Bongani Sam Orlando Pirates
Last season was his first with the Sea Robbers, but he played only two games. He made his PSL debut in the 2017/18 season with Highlands Park

There were not too many positives for Orlando Pirates to come from their 0-0 stalemate against Golden Arrows at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Bucs fired blanks up front and have now won only one of five matches in 2021 to leave them eight points adrift of the league leaders.

One positive, however, was the lively performance of left-back Bongani Sam.

The former Bloemfontein Celtic man does not have it easy at Bucs, where he has to compete with regular Bafana Bafana left-back Innocent Maela, and well as the diminutive yet silky-skilled Paseka Mako. He also suffered some injury setbacks last season.

But Sam certainly did himself no harm with an enterprising display against Arrows, with his forward runs and excellent crosses into the box particularly eye-catching.

Indeed the closest that Pirates came to finding the net was when Sam swung in a beauty of a cross for Thembinkosi Lorch, who made good contact with his header but was unlucky to see the ball striking the upright.

Analyst and former national U-17 women’s team coach Simphiwe Dludlu was impressed by the quality of Sam’s deliveries while commenting in her role as a SuperSport TV pundit.

“Sam has got the condition to play as he does. He’s doing this regularly (the attacking forays), he knows when to go up and bring in a cross. He doesn't wait for the by-line to play the cross, first time he brings it in," former Banyana Banyana defender Dludlu said.

“He is laying a cross which is pin-pointed – it’s not just a cross, it’s a pass.”

The 23-year-old Sam was substituted on the hour mark for Deon Hotto. It was, however, not a reflection of his performance but rather on his lack of game-time, as head coach Josef Zinnbauer explained in his post-match interview with SuperSport.

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“Sam made a good game, but a lot of time [not playing], he was a little bit tired. So we changed, we got a bit of freshness, with Hotto, more power up front,” Zinnbauer said.

Sam has made two appearances in the league for Pirates this season (although his first was only for a minute after coming on late against Swallows), and he has also played one Caf Champions League match.