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Maritzburg United 0-0 Orlando Pirates: Wasteful Bucs extend winless run

The Buccaneers failed to take their chances in the final third despite having a numerical advantage over the Team of Choice

Orlando Pirates extended their winless run to four competitive matches when they drew 0-0 with Maritzburg United in a PSL match at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The Team of the Choice played most of the second half with 10 players after Brandon Theron was deservedly sent off, but the Buccaneers failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority over the hosts. 

Former Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp made just one change to the Maritzburg team which faced and lost 2-1 to Royal AM in a PSL encounter on October 3 with Travis Graham being recalled to the starting line-up as the Team of Choice looked to avoid their third successive defeat. 

On the other hand, Olisa Ndah and Linda Mntambo were among the four players, who were recalled to the starting line-up by Pirates’ co-interim head coaches Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi with Bucs keen to return to winning ways after drawing 0-0 with Congo Brazzaville’s Diables Noirs in the Caf Confederation Cup last week Friday.

Pirates did most of the attacking in the opening proceedings with Mntambo seeing a lot of the ball in the hosts’ half and he was eager to impress in order to cement his place in the starting line-up after being handed a rare start for the Soweto giants.

The former Jomo Cosmos captain played a defence-splitting pass which sent Tshegofatso Mabasa through on goal, but the Bucs marksman was sublimely denied by Marcel Engelhardt as the Maritzburg goalkeeper looked to keep his third clean sheet of the season.

The German shot-stopper was then called into action after the troublesome Mntambo received a pass from Terrence Dzvukamanja on the edge of the hosts’ box and he unleashed a low shot which was blocked by Engelhardt, who produced a wonderful one-handed save to deny the Pirates playmaker.

Pirates should have been 1-0 up at half-time when Mntambo’s cross found an unmarked Dzvukamanja in the opposition box, but somehow the Zimbabwe international failed to direct the ball home from close range with the goal gaping and the score was 0-0 at the interval. 

With Pirates’ defence having looked solid and impenetrable in the first half with Ndah making some crucial clearances and interceptions for the visitors, Middendorp pulled out defender Riyaaz Ismail and introduced creative midfielder Daylon Claasen prior to the restart.

However, the Team of Choice were reduced to 10 players in the 66th minute as Theron was shown a straight red card after making a reckless challenge on Thabang Monare and the Pirates technical team responded by introducing attackers Simiso Bopelo and Kwame Peprah, who both made their official debuts for Bucs.

The hosts then sat back and defended very well – forcing the Buccaneers to resort to long-range attempts which saw Fortune Makaringe’s shot being tipped over the crossbar by Engelhardt, before Peprah’s goal-bound shot was blocked by Alfred Ndengane in the hosts’ box and ultimately, the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

The draw left Maritzburg 11th on the league standings ahead of their clash with TS Galaxy on Saturday, while Pirates moved up to sixth place on the log and they will now face Diables in the Confederation Cup second round second-leg match on Sunday. 

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