Orlando Pirates finally came good by edging out Thanda Royal Zulu 1-0 in a hard-fought Telkom Knockout first-round clash in Durban yesterday.
Bucs join Golden Arrows, Ajax Cape Town, SuperSport United, Bloemfontein Celtic, Free State Stars, Bay United and Moroka Swallows when the draw for the quarterfinals of the Knockout is made in Johannesburg this morning.
The victory, their first in the PSL this season, will have boosted the under-achieving Buccaneers and will take the pressure off new coach Ruud Krol.
The only goal of the game was netted by Lebogang Mothibantwa in the 66th minute and was enough to allow Bucs fans to celebrate a win for the first time in six official matches.
Thanda had the better of the first half exchanges but it was Pirates who squandered the best goal-scoring chance in an uninspiring opening 45 minutes.
The home side started with a more attacking system. Royal coach Roger Palmgren opted for a 4-4-2 formation using two strikers plus his leading goalscorer and captain Bernard Parker playing behind the two front men, Norman Smith and Nkosinathi Nhleko.
Parker and Nigerian midfielder Felix Obada returned to Durban on Saturday after a 10-day trial in Sweden with top outfit Malmo.
Pirates coach Ruud Krol deployed his veteran Zimbabwean international Gilbert Mushangazhike as his lone striker, which did not work out for Bucs in the first half as they lacked punch on the counterattack.
Nhleko, the former Bafana Bafana striker shaved the paintwork on the Bucs crossbar with a thunderous 20m drive as early as the third minute.
At the other end, Royal keeper Aubrey Mathibe made a good save from a Teko Modise free kick on 20 minutes.
But the miss of the day came two minutes from half time when Bucs midfielder Thulasizwe Mbuyane completely missed a brilliant cross from Dikgang Mabalane with Mathibe well beaten. All Mbuyane had to do was connect with the ball and Bucs would have been 1-0 ahead. More bad luck hit Bucs in the 54th minute thanks to a poor decision from referee Matthew Dyer who denied them a penalty.
Pirates were rewarded for their pressure when Mothibantwa blasted home in the 66th minute.
Mushangazhike looked to be in an offside position when he teed up the ball for Mothibantwa who gave Mathibe no chance by slotting the ball into the far corner, giving Bucs a deserved 1-0 lead. - Sapa