|Nkausu and Mbuyane © Gallo Images
SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates played to a goalless stalemate in the first leg of their MTN8 semifinal at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday, with both teams ending the match with just 10 men.
In contrast to the flowing six-goal thriller between Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows in the first semifinal on Saturday night, this was a tight, tactical, bruising encounter between two teams who will face each twice more in the next six days.
Judging by the competitive nature of this match, there will be plenty more yellow and red cards to come, but perhaps not many goals.
Pirates started the stronger of the two teams and had a penalty appeal turned down in the eighth minute when Benni McCarthy’s goal-bound shot was blocked by Bevan Fransman. Television replays suggested referee Thabo Nkosi got the decision right.
SuperSport then settled well into the game, with their midfield trio of Edwin Gyimah, Geroge Maluleka and Moffat Mdluli making life tough for their Bucs counterparts. However, the hosts struggled to create clear scoring chances.
The two best opportunities of the first half went the way of Pirates. On the half hour mark Thulasizwe Mbuyane controlled an Andile Jali cross before getting away a low shot from a tight angle that-trickled across the face of goal.
Four minutes later left-back Thabo Matlaba surged into the box with a mazy run before cutting inside to shoot with his right foot, but Fransman again was in the right place to make a crucial block.
Just before the halftime break Matsatsantsa were reduced to 10 men when Gyimah received a straight red card. The midfielder lashed out in retaliation at Manti Moholo after a 50-50 challenge between the two and was given his marching orders.
Pirates were lucky not to be reduced to 10 men themselves when Jali, already on a yellow card, committed a foul against substitute Franklyn Cale that was worthy of a red card, never mind a mere second caution, but this time the match officials missed the offence.
On 68 minutes Mpho Makola had a great chance to score his first goal for Pirates after great set-up play by Tlou Segolela and Thulasizwe Mbuyane, but he directed his shot straight at Ronwen Williams.
Pirates continued to pile on the pressure in an attempt to take advantage of their numerical advantage, but were unable to force a goal against a determined United defence that allowed them nothing but half-chances in the last quarter of the game.
The match ended in controversy, with Pirates’ Rooi Mahamutsa sent off after the final whistle for an idiotic kick on Thabiso Nkoana. The game ended goalless, and with both teams reduced a man.
SuperSport United 0
Orlando Pirates 0
SuperSport: Williams, Nkausu, Diouf, Fransman, Thwala, Mdluli, Gyimah, Maluleka (Pietersen 90+1’), Khenyeza (Hartog 77’), Nkoana, Zuma (Cale 64’)
Pirates: Josephs, Lekgwathi, Sangweni, Mahamutsa, Matlaba, Makola (Myeni 69’), Jali, Moholo, Klate (Segolela 66’), Mbuyane, McCarthy (Mbesuma 77’)