Orlando Pirates had a great start to their MTN8 semi final clash against Mamelodi Sunsdowns in front of a near full house at the 45 000 capacity Peter Mokabe stadium.
A great run and dribble down the right flank by Pirates Monnapule Saleng, who sped past Downs left back Aubrey Modiba, who was devoid of cover, to send in a pin point cross, for formed Downs striker Kermit Erasmus to head home from virtually on the goal line. Question marks also have to be asked of Downs marking, in allowing Erasmus to head home unmarked.
Sundowns’ strike force has been virtually non-existent, and it was clear they were not bluffing when they doubted the fitness of star striker Peter Shalulile for this tussle.
Things could have got worse for Sundowns when midfielder Gaston Sirino was lucky to stay on with only a yellow, after laying his hands on the opposition with a push to the neck.
Quite simply, Pirates were not really troubled by Downs. This was due to the tactical smartness of the Pirates line up and formation, with Nkosinathi Sibisi marshalling the defence superbly, and the double block of Miguel Timm and Fortune Makaringe paying huge dividends.
Without a doubt, Pirates have won the tactical battle so far, and are well-deserved of the 1-0 lead in the first half. Downs have to score one more goal than Pirates to go through, and there is no chance of penalties in this game, as a draw after 90 minutes will mean Pirates will go through on the away goals rule.