Orlando Pirates secured their spot in the Nedbank Cup last 16 with a 1-0 win over AmaZulu at Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Nedbank Cup Last 32
Result: Orlando Pirates 1-0 AmaZulu
Date: 06 February 2022
Venue: Orlando Stadium
Pirates were boosted by the return of Happy Jele, Paseka Mako, Olisa Ndah and Thabang Monare, while Usuthu were also bolstered by the recovery of shot-stopper Veli Mothwa, alongside a recall for Augustine Mulenga.
The Buccaneers had a bright start after Goodman Mosele was presented with a good chance to open the scoring in the ninth minute from a corner, but his header sailed inches wide of the upright.
The hosts were fortunate not to have a penalty decision go against them midway through the first stanza after Mosele handled the ball in a sliding challenge in the box but the referee let it slide after remonstrations by AmaZulu.
Pirates' pressure faded after the half-hour mark, with Benni McCarthy's charges starting to find momentum going forward but they could not carve out clear chances, as the first stanza came to a close without goals.
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The Buccaneers got off to the perfect start in the second stanza as Deon Hotto broke the deadlock eight minutes in with a strike past Mothwa in the box after exchanging passes with Monare to go through on goal.
Usuthu were struggling to break down Pirates in the last third and the Soweto giants made a double change 22 minutes before time, as Zakhele Lepasa replaced Kwame Peprah and Fortune Makaringe came on for Ntsako Makhubela, both for fresh legs.
Thembinkosi Lorch had a big chance to give Pirates a two-goal cushion in the last ten minutes after a cross by Lepasa sent him clear on goal in the box but his first-time strike was saved by Mothwa.
AmaZulu were awarded a penalty in the final three minutes after Abel Mabaso handled a long ball in the box, but Tapelo Xoki's spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane, as Pirates held on to book a spot in the last 16.
Here's how they started:
Pirates: 40. Mpontshane, 26. Shandu, 49. Ndah, 4. Jele, 29. Mako, 28. Makhubela, 20. Mosele, 16. Monare, 3. Lorch, 11. Hotto, 46. Peprah
Subs: 30. Sandilands, 23. Maela, 42. Mabaso, 17. Jooste, 6. Motshwari, 15. Makaringe, 27. Dzvukamanja, 18. Dlamini, 25. Lepasa.
AmaZulu: 44. Mothwa, 17. Gumede, 22. Khumalo, 27. Xoki, 4. Malepe, 21. Ceesay, 8. Makaula, 45. Buchanan, 11. Memela, 30. Mulenga, 7. Ntuli.
Subs: 43. Boshoff, 5. Sikhakane, 13. Zulu, 39. Mgwazela, 19. Moremi, 28. Ekstein, 23. Mlambo, 15. Qalinge, 12. Majok.