Orlando Pirates set out something of a marker ahead of the 2019/20 domestic season in South Africa with a 2-0 win over Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the Carling Black Label Cup on Saturday.
The season curtain raiser at the FNB Stadium saw the Buccaneers triumph thanks to first-half goals from Augustine Mulenga and Thembinkosi Lorch.
Chiefs made most of the early attacking play, but it was Pirates who claimed the lead in the 18th minute, taking advantage of a mistake in defence from the Amakhosi. Goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma gave away possession in looking to play out from the back, and Augustine Mulenga took full advantage in capitalising on a rebound off the woodwork.
Chiefs should have drawn level five minutes later, with Ramahlwe Mphahlele providing a perfect low cross from the right to give Lazarous Kambole an easy scoring chance, but the Zambian forward somehow put his effort off target.
The Amakhosi were made to pay for this miss when Pirates netted a second on the half hour mark: Bafana Bafana hero Thembinkosi Lorch cut inside from the left flank and curled a beautiful long-range shot beyond the reach of Bvuma to make it 2-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the men in gold and black when they lost key defender Mphahlele to injury a few minutes before the interval, necessitating the introduction of Reeve Frosler as the first substitute.
Early in the second half the ‘fan substitutions’ took place, with Fortune Makaringe replacing Lorch for Pirates, while Kabelo Mahlasela came on for Siphelele Ntshangase in the Chiefs line-up.
Both teams were keen to shuffle their packs through the second half and the game suffered as a result, with neither Bucs nor the Amakhosi able to find any kind of rhythm or consistency in their play.
However, the numerous substitutions did allow the supporters a chance to see some new signings in the flesh: Makaringe, Bongani Sam and Frank Mhango for Pirates, as well as Frosler and Samir Nurkovic for Chiefs.
The Amakhosi did manage to build some pressure in the final 20 minutes or so, with Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands called on to make several saves, but they were unable to find a way back into the match. The teams will be in Absa Premiership action next weekend in the opening round of the 2019/20 season. Pirates are at home to Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday 3 August, while Chiefs travel to Makhulong to face Highlands Park the following day.