Pirates will aim to fix TKO final heartbreak
Orlando Pirates may have sealed a ninth visit to the final of the Telkom Knockout competition but have known mostly heartbreak in this tournament in the past.
The Buccaneers disposed of Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend to seal their place in the December 8 decider in Port Elizabeth against surprise finalists Baroka FC‚ who have reached their first ever cup final.
Pirates will be overwhelming favourites given their form and the quality of their squad‚ but would do well not to look back in history for inspiration having had largely a torrid time in finals in a competition first played in 1982.
They first appeared in the final in 1987 but lost to Durban Bush Bucks in a decider that needed three attempts to get a winner.
After Pirates won the first leg 3-1 away they looked on course for the win‚ but Bush Bucks stormed back to win the second leg 2-0 for a 3-3 aggregate score. With no away goals in those days‚ the final went to a replay that was won 2-1 by the Durban side.
Pirates returned to the final in 1990‚ the last that was played over two legs‚ and this time went down 2-1 on aggregate to Mamelodi Sundowns.
Pirates were favourites going into the 1995 final against Wits University with a team that were league champions and on the cusp of claiming the CAF Champions Cup title.
But a goal just before halftime from Wits’ Benson Otiti sealed the unlikely triumph for The Clever Boys and extended the Pirates hoo-doo in the competition.
In 2000 they came up against a young Ajax Cape Town and this time they appeared odds-on for victory.
But after being held to a 1-1 draw in the final‚ a replay was needed and Ajax overwhelmed their more illustrious opponents to run out 4-1 winners‚ with Carlo Scott grabbing a brace. It remains to this day one of the biggest shocks in South African cup final history.
Pirates had the chance for revenge in 2008 when they met Ajax again in the final‚ but this time lost 2-1 as Mabhuti Khenyeza grabbed a brace for the Urban Warriors to make it now wins from five appearances in the decider for Pirates.
That was extended to six in the worst way possible when they were thumped 3-0 by Kaizer Chiefs in the final as defensive errors allowed Sthembiso Ngcobo to bag a brace for The AmaKhosi and Siphiwe Tshabalala grabbed the other goal.
Finally there was joy a year later when they met Wits in the 2011 final and ran out comfortable winners in the end. An early goal from Thulasizwe Mbuyane‚ often the man for the big stage‚ settled their nerves‚ but Sifiso Myeni equalised for Wits just past the hour mark.
The game was in the balance after that before Daine Klate and Isaac Chansa sealed a first ever success at the seventh attempt for The Buccaneers.
They have suffered more disappointment since then though‚ going down 2-1 to Platinum Stars in 2013 when they were again heavy favourites.
Lucky Lekgwathi had put them in front in the first half‚ but Botswana international Mogakolodi Ngele came off the bench to score twice for the now defunct Stars to seal a famous win for them.