In coach Owen da Gama’s first game in charge for Orlando Pirates, they lost to Thanda Royal Zulu in a cup game. Da Gama’s charges showed their improvement since his arrival by beating the Royals 3-1 in a Premier Soccer League game at Johannesburg Stadium on Sunday.
South Africa internationals Bennet Chenene and Excellent Walaza netted before Côte d’Ivoire striker Serge Dhjiehoua scored for the visitors. Paulos Masehe, who came on for Teko Modise with three minutes to play netted with his first touch to put the contest out of the Royals’ reach.
The visitors had the first shot on goal by none other than former Pirates player Katlego Loke, whose scorcher from just outside the big box was tipped over the bar by the alert Senzo Meyiwa.
Three minutes later Walaza could have put the hosts ahead after an inviting cross from the right by Tlou Segolela, but the striker missed the ball.
It was all Pirates, though, as they held on to the ball and attacked hastily, which led to too many chances missed.
Da Gama became more anxious as the half-time break neared and furiously barked instructions from the bench.
Pirates continued the pressure after the break and finally eased Da Gama’s stress in the 57th minute. Chenene dispossessed a defender near the halfway line and cantered towards goal before netting with a delightful chip.
Three minutes later a defence-splitting pass from Teko Modise released Walaza on the edge of the 18-yar area and the striker took his time before lofting the ball over a helpless Kitenge.
With a two-goal advantage Pirates’ Lebohang Mokoena, Modise and Chenene foolishly resorted to tricks with 30 minutes to go. Their antics frustrated the Royals so much that their captain Tshepo Mashishi slapped Chenene and was duly sent off.
With only 10 men on the field the Royals never gave up and fought to get back in the game. Former Kaizer Chiefs forward Djiehoua reduced the deficit with a thunderous freekick from outside the big box.
The burly Côte d’Ivoire striker Dhjiehoua urged his teammates on and they responded to his call.
Suddenly Pirates were in danger of letting another victory slip through their hands as Djiehoua and company piled on the pressure. Pirates held on and caught the visitors’ cold with another quick counter-attack by Walaza.
He raced towards goal, but with Kitenge closing his angle he selfishly went for glory despite two of his teammates running unmarked into the goal area.
Kitenge made the save but the rebound fell to Mokoena, whose shot at goal was tapped into the roof of the net by Masehe with his first touch of the game.
Pirates leap up to fourth place in the Premier Soccer League table while Royals are now at the bottom of the log. — Sapa