Orlando Pirates qualified for a fifth successive football cup final with a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Golden Arrows in the first Telkom Knockout semi-final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday night.
After reaching all three cup finals last term — (Pirates won the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup, and lost to Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom KO) — and claiming the MTN8 for a second successive time earlier this season, Bucs will play in yet another showpiece match after goals from Siyabonga Sangweni, Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Oupa Manyisa saw them to victory over Arrows, for whom Robyn Johannes opened the scoring.
It is the first time that Abafana Bes’thende coach Muhsin Ertugral has lost a semi-final match in South African football, while Pirates will be looking to make history of their own in next month’s final.
Arrows picked an unchanged line-up from the starting XI that beat Jomo Cosmos last weekend, while Pirates made no less than six changes to the team that lost 3-1 to Bidvest Wits.
The likes of Lucky Lekgwathi, Andile Jali, Daine Klate and Benni McCarthy were welcome returnees for the Soweto side.
After a cagey opening to the game, Pirates almost opened the scoring in the 21st minute. An innocuous-looking long ball from Sangweni saw McCarthy out-jump Musa Bilankulu and power a header onto the crossbar, with goalkeeper Helton Da Rocha well- beaten.
Bucs looked the likelier scorers in what was a tightly-contested game, but Arrows surged ahead just past the half hour mark when former Pirates player Robyn Johannes picked up a pass from Dillon Sheppard, burst through the visitors’ backline and beat Moeneeb Josephs with a low shot.
From a former Buccaneer getting on the score sheet, it was soon the turn of a former Arrows defender to level the scores: Sangweni redirected a shot from Rooi Mahamutsa beyond Da Rocha in the 40th minute to leave the game locked at 1-1 heading into the break.
Good pressure from Daine Klate and a mix-up between Mzivukile Tom and Da Rocha allowed “Juju” a straightforward chance to put Bucs ahead with just under 20 minutes to play and he duly guided home a left-footed shot to make it 2-1.