Baxter finishes his time at United with an emphatic win over hapless Pirates,who just couldn’t get into the game.
What a way to end a club coaching career! Stuart Baxter could not have asked for a more perfect farewell than winning the Nedbank Cup with SuperSport United.
In fact, when Baxter left Kaizer Chiefs three seasons ago, the Nedbank Cup was the final trophy he delivered for Amakhosi. Not only that, this was the first title he won for United last season. In the process, United became the first side to defend their title and they did this in an astonishing way by demolishing Pirates, who had no answers for their onslaught.
The heavy defeat once again signalled what a season Pirates had. No top eight, no trophy and no continental football – again. It can not get any worse than this as they have nothing to show for it.
It will also raise questions about the future of coach Kjell Jonevret, who has clearly failed to yield the expected changes to the side.
The opening half belonged to United, who took control of the game from the first whistle until the referee blew for half time. Statistics do not lie and everything pointed towards United, who had 11 corners to show for their efforts. Not only that, they also had a goal to prove their dominance after Bradley Grobler put them ahead in the 32nd minute.
Pirates were guilty of ball watching in their own half as they afforded United players too much space. And they paid heavily for this when Grobler benefited from a Grant Kekana cross, which caught them napping at the back. United showed their intentions early on as they took the game to Pirates, hoping to catch them while still cold, but the Buccaneers held on until they were breached by Grobler’s effort.
As for Pirates, they had nothing to come back with as they struggled to string a few passes together. They only had two corner kicks, which did not trouble United’s rear guard.
The big question coming into this encounter was whether Pirates were affected by the long break – they last played in the final game of the league in May, while United have been playing competitively in the CAF Confederations Cup.
Even though they struggled to get into the game, Pirates did not show any signs of rustiness, while United were always on the up.
United failed to kill off the game when Jeremy Brockie missed from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute. But credit should go to Siyabonga Mpontshane, who guessed correctly to keep Pirates in the game. But that counted for nothing as Brockie made up for his miss with a well-taken header in the 60th minute. It was not over yet, and Grobler grabbed his brace few minutes later. Then substitute Kingston Nkhatha put the final nail in the coffin a few minutes after coming on for Grobler.
Oupa Manyisa scored Pirates’ consolation goal from the spot kick in added time.
SuperSport United: Bradley Grobler ’32 and ’63; Jeremy Brockie ’60; Kingston Nkhatha ’80
Orlando Pirates: Oupa Manyisa