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Tactics Talk: Four Factors In Pirates Beating Highlands

On Saturday evening, Orlando Pirates beat struggling Highlands Park 3-1 at Orlando Stadium.

Four key tactical factors in the result were as follows.

-          Highlands Tinker Defensively Again

-          Pirates’ left side functions well

-          Movement Beats Man Marking

-          Bucs Drop off in 2nd half again 

Read: Pirates To Pounce On International Striker? 

Highlands Tinker Defensively Again

Right now, Owen Da Gama’s men are having a torrid time defensively. Against Kaizer Chiefs, they lost 3-0 and promptly dropped Abdi Banda and Mark Munyai for the next game, bringing Limbikani Mzava and Sifiso Mbhele into the backline. For this game, they changed again as Bevan Fransman started, Lesenya Ramoraka returned and Mbhele was used in midfield. With an enforced change in goal too with Marlon Heugh suspended, the side lacked understanding and familiarity in defence.

Pirates’ left side functions well

A key factor for coach, Josef Zinnbauer was how to replace the injured Innocent Maela and the suspended Vincent Pule on the left flank. His solution was to hand Bongani Sam a debut in the Pirates shirt, and to recall Paseka Mako. The duo worked well up that side with Sam assisting Mako’s goal, and Bucs’ pressing on that flank caused a backpass from Luckyboy Mokoena to be finished off by the in-form, Gabadinho Mhango. 

Read: Pirates Dealt Huge Defensive Blow

Movement Beats Man Marking

Highlands employed their usual tactics on looking to man-mark Pirates all over the pitch. Bucs took just six minutes to break this strategy as a Happy Jele pass over the top took out the midfield and allowed Thembinkosi Lorch to finish.

With the movement of man of the match, Luvuyo Memela, Lorch, Mako and Mhango, Pirates’ movement left Highlands’ man markers to be dragged all over the pitch, creating gaps to be exploited. These two sides regularly face off in training ground friendly matches, so Bucs have had plenty of practice in dealing with these man-orientated tactics.

Bucs Drop off in 2nd half again

Once again, Pirates could not maintain their intensity and performance in the second period. In Zinnbauer’s five games in charge, the side have lost the second half on three occasions, to Bloemfontein Celtic, Polokwane City and now Highlands Park. Pirates have failed to score in four of their five second halves under the German coach.

Having said that, the coach has made good changes to kill games, by adding extra defenders like Alfred Ndengane or Mthokozisi Dube to see out results. In the second half of this game, Highlands had 274 possessions of the ball compared to 237 for Pirates. Bucs are controlling results by allowing the opposition to have the ball and being compact, whereas under Milutiin Sredojevic and Rhulani Mokwena, the side looked to keep the ball as a way of defending leads.

How impressed were you with Pirates against Highlands Park? Let us know by commenting below!  

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