Orlando Pirates have secured their chance to defend their MTN8 trophy this season, despite a 1-0 defeat against Stellenbosch FC in the second-leg semifinal clash at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In the first leg, Deon Hotto’s injury-time winner proved crucial as it contributed significantly to the Buccaneers’ advancement to the MTN8 final on the away goals rule.
The 22nd-minute own goal by Zakhele Lepasa in the second leg gave Stellenbosch some hope, but Pirates managed to hold on to their spot in the final, which is set to take place on October 7th.
Right from the start of the game, Orlando Pirates displayed an aggressive approach, aiming to establish control of the ball. On the other hand, Stellenbosch adopted a more opportunistic strategy, particularly during counter-attacking situations.
Despite Pirates dominating possession, Stellenbosch managed to create a couple of significant scoring opportunities within the opening 20 minutes, largely credited to Iqraam Rayners.
Stellenbosch broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute, capitalizing on a corner situation. Pirates struggled to clear the ball from their area, and Rayners seized the opportunity, firing a shot that deflected off Lepasa inside the box, leaving the goalkeeper bewildered.
Deon Hotto came close to equalizing for Pirates just five minutes before halftime with a curling free-kick from the right side of the Stellenbosch area, but Sage Stephens made a crucial save. Nonetheless, Stellenbosch held a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
In the second half, Stellenbosch initially controlled possession but posed little threat going forward. Meanwhile, Pirates looked dangerous when attacking, with players like Hotto and Paseka Mako linking up effectively in the Stellenbosch half. However, Pirates struggled to convert their attacking opportunities and were let down by their finishing in the final third.
As the match reached the 75th-minute mark, the Buccaneers retained possession, while Stellenbosch resorted to counterattacks. In the 89th minute, second-half substitute Evidence Makgopa came close to equalizing for Pirates with a shot from the right side of the penalty box that forced Stephens into action.
Although Stellenbosch secured a 1-0 victory on the day, Orlando Pirates advanced to the MTN8 final with the advantage of two away goals, resulting in a 2-2 final aggregate score in their favour.