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8 Cup

Unsung Orlando Pirates heroes key to MTN8 cup final win over AmaZulu

19:31 GMT 05/11/2022
Orlando Pirates win MTN8 final 2022
The Buccaneers kept Usuthu's trophy wait to 30-years after edging to victory at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night

While Monnapule Saleng's wonder goal in Orlando Pirates' 1-0 MTN8 final win over AmaZulu will be grabbing headlines, there were a number of other important performances as well.

Saleng underlined his brilliant recent form for Pirates by scoring with a sensational free kick from the tightest of angles, while it was midfielder Miguel Timm who was named Man-of-the-Match for his all-action display in the engine room.

Not far behind Timm though were the outstanding Olisa Ndah and Thapelo Xoki. The central defenders had to cope with the second-minute loss through injury of their partner, Nkosinathi Sibisi.

They also had to deal with a major onslaught of pressure from AmaZulu in the second half as the Durban side threw everything forward in search of an equaliser.

The duo was immense, holding firm against wave after wave of attack with their tight marking, timely tackles and thumping headers. So much so that goalkeeper Richard Ofori, making his first start since recovering from injury, was barely tested.

Time for the next challenge?

Pirates' success this season has largely been based on a solid defensive effort and they had conceded only seven goals in 13 league matches and just one goal in their four MTN8 fixtures.

It's been a fantastic effort - just 8 conceded in 17 - with Sibisi, Ndah and Xoki at the forefront and well supported by the excellent Thabiso Monyane, Innocent Maela, Paseka Mako and Bandile Shandu.

It’s a watertight defence and it is ensuring that Bucs are very hard to beat – only once in the eight matches that Pirates have taken the lead this season, have they not gone on to win the game.

It’s often said as well that league titles are won on the back of steady defences and that should be cause for optimism in terms of Pirates challenging Mamelodi Sundowns for the league.

If the likes of Saleng, Kermit Erasmus, Zakhele Lepasa and some of the Buccaneers’ other attackers can keep the scoreboard steadily ticking over, Bucs might just have what it takes.

Certainly, they seem a happy, united squad and will be riding high on confidence now after lifting the MTN8 trophy.