No fire in weakened Bucs

2008-07-22 00:00

Durban — Orlando Pirates new coach Rudi Krol’s gamble of fielding a weakened side against English and European champions Manchester United in the second match of the Vodacom Challenge backfired at a near capacity Kings Park Stadium on Tuesday night as the Red Devils ran out easy 1-0 winners.

But it could have been a lot worse. United seemed to be happy to go through the motions against a side that tried hard to make a game of it but the English kings were rarely troubled in a match that never rose to any great heights.

Despite all their pre-match promises Bucs failed to match Kaizer Chiefs effort when Amakhosi and United drew 1-1 in the opening match of the Challenge series played at Newlands, Cape Town last Saturday.

Krol, the former Dutch international defender, left out most of his first team regulars and fielded a reserve strength side against a club rated as the best in world soccer at present.

He was obviously keeping his top players fresh for the crunch Soweto Derby against Chiefs at Port Elizabeth’s EPRU Stadium on Thursday night. Kick-off is at 8.10pm.

The winner of the Derby will meet United in the Challenge final at Loftus on Saturday. The match is already sold out.

The sad thing is should Chiefs beat Pirates on Thursday then most of their top players will not get this once in a life time chance to play against some of the world’s best soccer stars.

While Krol showed little respect for Manchester United he showed even less for the paying customers who paid good money to watch the new-look Pirates that failed to materialise.

The game was not in the same class as the nail biting 1-1 draw between United and Chiefs. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said before the match that he would be making changes from the team that played Chiefs. But at least he had his big guns on the bench.

Bucs second team goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa did well to pull off good saves from Carlos Tevez and Lee Martin in the seventh and 11th minutes respectively as the Red Devils piled on the pressure against what can only be described as an experimental Buccaneers starting line-up.

United’s England midfielder Michael Carrick had his volley deflected for a corner in the 12th minute and eight minutes later Bucs skipper and one of the few experienced players in the side, Lehlohonolo Seema did well to block Carrick’s goal bound shot.

But the pressure paid off in the 23rd minute when martin chipped over Meyiwa after he collected a clever flick off from Frazer Campbell.

Bucs were lucky that they did not concede a penalty in the 39th minute when Martin was brought down inside the danger zone by defender Lucas Thwala. Zambian referee Cornelius Mwanza turned down United’s appeal which led to their captain Rio Ferdinand getting booked by the match official for dissent.

Pirates started the second half with a lot more effort and energy. Bucs came close in the early stages of the second period but midfielder Tlou Segolela’s shot flew over the United crossbar in the 52nd minute.

But the best shot of the night came from Bucs new signing Lebohang Mothibantwa whose 25 metre bullet forced United keeper Ben Forster to make a great save in the 65th minute.

United had the ability to step up a gear if needed while Bucs reserves to their credit never stopped running but their hard work and endeavour was never going to be enough against a team with the calibre of United.

But to Pirate’s credit their defence with Seema in control never panicked and held their own.

United substitute Paul Scholes forced Meyiwa into another top class save in the 76th minute. But Bucs almost snatched an equaliser in the 79th minute when Happy Jele brought out the best in Foster with a close range bullet that the United keeper did well to fist out of danger.

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