Result: Orlando Pirates 3-1 Black Leopards
Date: 21 December 2019
Venue: Orlando Stadium
Josef Zinnbauer began his Orlando Pirates reign with a 3-1 triumph over Black Leopards in their final Absa Premiership clash of the year.
Newly appointed Buccanneers coach Josef Zinnbauer made made only two changes from the 2-2 draw against Baroka FC, as Augustine Mulenga and Kabelo Dlamini earned starts at the expense of Fortune Makaringe, who failed a late fitness test and Paseka Mako who dropped to the bench.
Lidoda Duvha came close to grabbing an early lead in the fifth minute after Lesedi Kapinga turned Ntsikelelo Nyauza inside-out and unleashed a dipping strike from just outside the box that forced Pirates shot-stopper Wayne Sandilands into a fine save.
However, the hosts were found their rhythm going forward and eventually broke the deadlock in the 21st minute thanks to Innocent Maela's low strike inside the box that took a slight deflection off defender Chris Katjiukua and wrong-footed Leopards goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.
Kapinga came close in quick succession to equalising for Luc Eymael's charges with ten minutes remaining of the first stanza with a couple of efforts from distance that sailed narrowly wide of Sandilands' upright.
The game opened up in the closing minutes as Vincent Pule brought the best out of Mendes seven minutes before the break with a curling strike from 20-yards while Mulenga was also denied by the Guinea-Bissauan shot-stopper.
Leopards were threatening on counter-attacks early in the second stanza and they finally levelled matters on the hour-mark after Mwape Musona powered home a powerful strike beyond Sandilands from Thuso Phala's through ball.
However, Gabadinho Mhango restored the lead for Zinnbauer's troops four minutes later with a well-placed strike from the right side of the box being played in by substitute Luvuyo Memela.
Pirates were then awarded a penalty with 20 minutes remaining after Mendes appeared to have brought down Mhango, who dusted himself off and slotted home the spot-kick.
Matlaba and Kapinga had two similar chances within a minute for Leopards with eight minutes remaining after they went clear on the right side of the box, but they both went for power at the near post and Sandilands made successive saves.
Nonetheless, Pirates managed to hold on to end the year with three points.
Here's how they lined up:
Pirates: 30. Sandilands, 23. Maela, 4. Jele, 5. Nyauza, 44. Mabaso, 6. Motshwari, 32. Mntambo, 18. Dlamini, 17. Mulenga, 45. Pule, 7. Mahango
Subs: 1. Delle, 27. Ndengane, 29. Mako, 14. Nyatama, 11. Memela, 16. Mabasa, 12. Shonga.
Leopards: 1. Mendes, 8. Matlaba, 13. P. Zulu, 33. Katjiukua, 2. Gyimah, 25. Mokoena, 27. Ng'ambi, 14. Phala, 11. Musonda, 31. Ndlovu, 12. Kapinga.
Subs: 32. Muleka, 29. Masia, 6. Mudau, 5. Abubakar, 9. Andrianarimanana, 30. Mhlongo, 17. Hlongwane.