Orlando Pirates booked a spot in the MTN8 final despite a 1-0 defeat to Stellenbosch in the second leg of their semifinal tie played at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.
The two-legged contest between the two sides ends in a 2-2 aggregate score, and the Buccaneers’ title defence remains alive as they march to the final via the away-goal rule. Sunday’s fixture began with the hosts struggling for rhythm with no shots at goal throughout the opening 20 minutes, despite enjoying a good chunk of possession. Meanwhile, Stellies closed shop at the back and opted for long balls down the middle, twice drawing Bucs keeper Sipho Chaine out of his line.
A fortuitous strike in the 22nd minute gave the visitors the lead as Iqraam Rayners’ shot from outside the box caught a deflection from the boot of Zakhele Lepasa, which wrongfooted Chaine on its way into the back of the net. This brought them level on aggregate with Pirates enjoying an ever-so-slight advantage through the away-goal rule.
Stellies kept the home crowd quiet until after the half-hour mark when the Soweto Giants created their first real opportunity at goal through captain Tapelo Xoki, whose header from a corner swung wide of the target. The Buccaneers’ first shot on target came off the boot of Deon Hotto, as he drew a save from goalkeeper Sage Stephens from a free kick moments before Lepasa had a go with a header that looped over the crossbar.
The first few minutes of the second half were similar to how things began in the first with Pirates slow to hit their stride. They managed their first shot at goal 63 minutes in through the unlikely figure of defender Sandile Mthethwa, who fired wide from a long way out after advancing forward in search of the equaliser.
The hosts continued to probe without much luck and had a rare shot on target in the 79th minute through a set piece taken by Tapelo Xoki, whose goalbound shot was gathered by Stephens. Lepasa had an opportunity to draw level two minutes later, working his way into space inside the box before a deflection created an easy save for the Stellies shot-stopper.
The final 10 minutes featured a more defensive approach from the hosts, but replacement striker Evidence Makgopa came close to making it 1-1 in injury time with a firmly-struck shot from a tight angle which drew a save from Stephens. Pirates clung on to their slim advantage in the dying moments to set up a final against Mamelodi Sundowns, which is set to take place at Moses Mabhida Stadium on October 7.