Spurs hand Bucs a hiding

2011-07-23 20:06

Before yesterday’s Vodacom Challenge final Orlando Pirates’ new coach, Julio Leal, said his side was still working on tactical ­aspects of their game.

And it showed when the ­Buccaneers succumbed to ­ two pieces of individual brilliance by Tottenham Hotspur’s Rafael van der Vaart.

Striker Jermain Defoe scored the third goal late in the game.

But the game belonged to the Dutch international midfielder, who not only gave Pirates a lesson on how to convert from a freekick but also had composure written all over his second strike despite being denied by Senzo ­Meyiwa at the first attempt.

This was in stark contrast to how Pirates left the Doornfontein venue battered despite their numerous chances at goal and massive ball possession.

As it turned out, the English ­premiership side clinched their second “Kudu horn”, having also won the 2007 edition. Spurs beat Pirates by the same margin on that occasion.

But again Bucs, who missed from the penalty spot yesterday ­after Tlou Segolela’s kick deep ­into the second half rebounded off the upright, should now realise that showboating is not the way to win games.

Even a late rally could not break the Spurs back four that included local boy Bongani Khumalo and Cameroon international Sebastien Bassong, with Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes also firm in goal.

Spurs’ coach Harry Redknapp revealed after the match that ­Khumalo would leave for Reading, where he will be loaned to the First Division side.

Redknapp lived up to his ­pre-match promise that he would hand Bafana captain Steven ­Pienaar a start and the midfielder’s inclusion in the first eleven ensured a true Mzansi ­flavour, with Khumalo also given another ­starting bite at the cherry.

Pienaar, who was deployed wide on the left flank, showed signs that he was still trying to get his footing back after a knee injury had kept him out of Spurs’ ­opening two matches against ­Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates.

Nonetheless, “Schillo”, who ­lasted 45 minutes – along with Khumalo – was well received by a capacity crowd that reminded one of the World Cup ­moments that captured the imagination of the country last year.

The English side looked a bit more energised than the side that was still recovering from serious jetlag in the opening two matches.

Speedy winger Aaron Lennon was always a threat on the right and the England international’s deadly pace denied Bucs’ Ruben Cloete any chance to overlap.

Cloete later gave way to Lucas Thwala, who made a return to the team for the first time after knee and ankle surgery had kept him out of action since August last year.

Pirates were the first out of the blocks and came close after Oupa Manyisa released Segolela on the right. But Kyle Walker recovered from a slip-up and conceded a ­corner kick.

Spurs’ strength emanated from the right, where Lennon was ­always the danger man with Peter Crouch lurking in the Pirates’ goal area and making it difficult for ­defenders and goalkeeper?Meyiwa to clear.

Although he was found wanting at times, Siyabonga Sangweni still showcased his worth in the heart of the Bucs’ rearguard.

One of his vital contributions was the interception he made 20 minutes into the second half when Tom ­Huddlestone was about to pull the trigger from close range.

Two minutes later Thulasizwe Mbuyane was presented with a chance to give the Buccaneers the lead but he headed Segolela’s cross over the bar. This was just one of the many occasions when Bucs demonstrated how not to score goals.

Bongani Ndulula was also not at his ­best up front.

And just when the hosts were counting their misses, Van der Vaart beat Meyiwa with a similar execution from a free kick that ­replicated the two sides 1-1 draw in Nelspruit midweek.

With just a few weeks left before the new season kicks off across the Absa and English Premierships, both Redknapp and Leal will certainly remember this ­tournament as an important ­pre-season drill for their respective sides.
South Africa’s defending champions, Pirates, who face Chiefs in another pre-season clash on ­Saturday, will open with Platinum Stars, Maritzburg United and Santos before an official Soweto derby against Amakhosi in ­September.

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