Bucs have one hand on the trophy

2012-05-12 19:31

Orlando Pirates (0) 2
Bloemfontein Celtic (1) 1

The reaction to referee Bennett Daniel’s final whistle sparked celebrations reminiscent of last season when Orlando Pirates clinched the title.

But that was just the penultimate step to the real clincher. This win sees the Buccaneers revive their aspirations of a successful defence of the Absa Premiership.

Late goals from Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Siyabonga Sangweni not only cancelled out an early Bloemfontein Celtic goal from Letladi Madubanya, but ensured that the result kept up with Moroka Swallows, who, while the Buccaneers were 1-0 down after just three minutes, were 2-0 up just 10 minutes into their fixture against Platinum Stars.

After Mamelodi Sundowns succumbed to a 1-0 loss to SuperSport United in the Tshwane derby, the battle for the R10 million league prize is now between Soweto neighbours Pirates and Swallows.

Sundowns and SuperSport were up until yesterday still in contention for the championship, but even wins from their closing fixtures will do no harm to the top two.

Swallows will face Maritzburg United, while Pirates face Golden Arrows on the final day on Saturday.

Pirates needed a late surge to win as they didn’t really give the inspiring performance expected of champions in waiting.

Even a rare start for Isaac Chansa, who was deployed just behind the striking pair of Benni McCarthy and Tokelo Rantie, did little to intimidate the Celtic rearguard, which was often jittery.

Zambian midfieder Chansa, whose solitary goal won Pirates the league last season, was jeered by his own fans and later made way for Thulasizwe Mbuyane near the hour mark, who headed home the equaliser after 73 minutes of play.

Although the visitors played well in patches, they were still let off the hook by a Pirates side that did not show the grit that earned them the historic treble in last year’s campaign.

Instrumental for Celtic was the less popular attacking midfielder Ruzaigh Gamildien, who showed little respect with his near-flawless passing. But inexperience got the better of the youngster, especially in the closing quarter when Pirates found their feet – and the goals started raining in for the Buccaneers when Mbuyane and defender Sangweni hit the target within four minutes of each other.

Celtic acutely felt captain Thabo Nthethe’s injury and his subsequent forced substitution impacted negatively as the visitors lost their structure in the process.

Celtic also needed a win to cement their spot in the top eight, but they still have a chance to snatch a spot. But this victory denied them what would have been a three-match win on the trot.

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