Orlando Pirates were made to sweat for their 1-0 win over Swallows FC at the iconic Orlando Stadium in their opening match of the 2022-23 PSL season on Saturday afternoon.
The Buccaneers got off to a great start as they grabbed an early goal through Bienvenu Eva Nga with the former Chippa United striker marking his official debut for the Soweto giants with a goal.
However, Bucs couldn't double their lead as the team was let down by some poor finishing.
Jose Riveiro unleashed an attack-minded Pirates side with Thembinkosi Lorch, Deon Hotto and Eva Nga starting up front. New signings Eva Nga, Tapelo Xoki and Nkosinathi Sibisi were handed their competitive debuts for the Buccaneers by Riveiro who was looking to begin his tenure with a victory.
The Spanish tactician's Swallows counterpart, Dylan Kerr was absent from the visiting team's dugout due to a work permit issue and player assistant coach Musa Nyatama took charge of the team instead. Former Pirates defender Kwanda Mngonyama made his official debut for Swallows, while Waseem Isaacs led the attack.
Pirates controlled the match from the start and they were building from the back with the likes of Kabelo Dlamini and Goodman Mosele carrying the ball into attacking areas. Eva Nga, who was in great form in pre-season scoring against Mbabane Highlanders of Eswatini and TS Galaxy, had a chance to grab an early goal, but he fired over the crossbar.
However, the Cameroonian marksman made amends for his miss in the 10th minute after some good work by Dlamini. The left-footed playmaker's deflected pass found Eva Nga in the opposition's box and the bulky frontman beat goalkeeper Thakasani Mbanjwa with a powerful low shot to hand Pirates a 1-0 lead - much to the delight of the home fans.
The hosts continued to launch attacks after taking the lead - piling pressure on the Amaswaiswai defence. The Buccaneers won back-to-back corner kicks, but Mbanjwa and his teammates dealt well with the aerial balls which were played into their area. Mbanjwa denied eventual Man of the Match Sibisi with a fine reflex save after the visitors' defence was caught ball-watching and the score was 1-0 to Pirates at the interval.
Nyatama introduced Takasani Mthethwa prior to the start of the second half as the influential midfielder made his return from a long-term injury which had sidelined him for over a year. However, the Buccaneers continued to dominate the match and Mbanjwa produced two good saves to deny Hotto and Eva Nga who both should have scored.
Amaswaiswai looked to threaten on the counterattack and they should have been awarded a penalty when Tshidiso Patjie was fouled by Sibisi in the box. Patjie was creating problems for the Bucs defence on the left side, but he was denied twice by a well-positioned keeper Richards Oforo who was having a busy second half.
Both teams launched attacks in the latter stages of the game with Swallows looking to snatch a late equalising goal, while Pirates were eager to kill off the match with their second goal of the match. However, the two teams were unable to find the back of the net in the dying minutes of the encounter and ultimately, Pirates emerged as 1-0 winners in the day.
Therefore began the 2022-23 campaign with a victory and they will are scheduled to face Stellenbosh FC FC on Wednesday, while Swallows are set to battle it out with Cape Town City on Tuesday.