Royal AM 1-2 Orlando Pirates: Buccaneers hold off Thwihli Thwahla to secure MTN8 semi-final spot
Miguel Timm Orlando Pirates.
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The Soweto giants joined Usuthu in the last four of the lucrative tournament after overcoming another ambitious Durban-based side

Orlando Pirates become the second team to reach this season's MTN8 semi-finals after AmaZulu FC following their 2-1 win over Royal AM in a quarter-final clash at Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday night.

Goals from Vincent Pule and Thabiso Monyane inspired the Buccaneers to a hard-fought win over Thwihli Thwahla, while Mokete Mogaila grabbed what proved to be a consolation goal for the hosts. It was a game that saw both teams having a player sent off as Khetukuthula Ndlovu and Goodman Mosele were both dismissed. 

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Pirates were boosted by Monyane's return from injury that had led to him missing the PSL game against Marumo Gallants due to an injury as the Buccaneers won 1-0 on Wednesday. Bienvenu Eva Nga, Olisa Ndah, and Deon Hotto was also called up to the starting line-up by coach Jose Riveiro.

On the other hand, Sera Motebang was rewarded with another starting berth after scoring in Royal's 1-0 win over Maritzburg United in a PSL clash on Wednesday. Thwihli Thwahla were looking to avenge their 1-0 loss to Pirates in a league game that was played in Durban on August 17.

Pirates got off to the perfect start as they brought the deadlock just three minutes into the match. Shadrack Kobedi gave away possession in Royal's half and Pule made no mistake as the left-footed player scored with a hard and low shot to hand Pirates a 1-0 lead after Hotto and Eva Nga had relentlessly pressed the hosts' defenders.

The Buccaneers continued to launch attacks after taking the lead and Thwihli Thwahla were lucky not to be reduced to 10 players after Ricardo Nascimento had denied Pule a clear goalscoring opportunity with the skilful winger having dribbled past the ageing Brazilian defender who was the last man in defence.

The hosts were under siege with the half-time break approaching and they should have conceded another goal when Eva Nga set up Zakhele Lepasa who missed a sitter from close range with goalkeeper Xolani Ngcobo caught off his goal-line and the score was 1-0 to Pirates at the interval.

An entertaining second half followed with both teams launching attacks and it was the Buccaneers who scored first in the first half. Monyane unleashed a powerful and low shot which Ngcobo failed to handle and the ball sneaked into the back of the net to make it 2-0 to Pirates in the 55th minute.

However, the two-goal lead only lasted for three minutes as substitute Mfundo Thikazi's low shot hit keeper Richard Ofori's left upright and Mogaila fired the ball home from the rebound to level matters - silencing the Pirates supporters inside the stadium. 

The momentum was with Thwihli Thwahla in the closing proceedings with Thabo Matlaba's rasping shot narrowly missing the target. Both teams were reduced to 10 players in stoppage time as tempers flared which led to Khetukuthula Ndlovu and Goodman Mosele being sent off and ultimately, Pirates emerged as 2-1 winners on the night.

Therefore, the Buccaneers reached the semi-finals of the MTN8 for the first time since 2020 and they are scheduled to face Maritzburg United in a PSL clash on September 4, while Thwihli Thwahla bowed out of the cup competition ahead of their league clash against Sekhukhune United on September 3.