Galaxy dent Bucs' CAF ambitions
Phohlongo header sends Rockets into top 8
Orlando Pirates' ambitions to topple AmaZulu from second spot and qualify for next season's CAF Champions League took a huge blow after a 1-0 defeat to TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium yesterday.
A win would have resulted in the Bucs reducing the four-point gap between them and second-placed AmaZulu to one point heading into the final two matches of the season.
Pirates have to be one of the more inconsistent teams in the DStv Premiership this season, and this is one of the reasons they failed to challenge for the league title. They have struggled to win successive matches.
Yesterday's result has put the pressure back on beleaguered coach Josef Zinnbauer, with calls for him to be fired gaining momentum again.
The Pirates coach surprisingly made five changes from Thursday's win over AmaZulu as Abel Mabaso, Thabang Monare, Wayde Jooste, Vincent Pule and Kabelo Dlamini were all recalled, while the Rockets were without Bathusi Aubaas.
Galaxy made an impressive start to the match as Masilake Phohlongo gave them the lead in the third minute with a towering header into the top corner.
It resulted from poor defending by the Pirates defence as Jooste allowed Ebrahim Seedat to cross the ball and Siyabonga Mpontshane should have done better to clear the ball but seemed to be caught in two minds.
The Rockets kept putting pressure on Pirates and Tshegofatso Nyama came close to doubling their lead with a deflected shot that sailed inches wide.
It was a quiet start from the Buccaneers, following their Thursday's big 1-0 win over AmaZulu as they looked flat.
Both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half, with Mabaso and Galaxy captain Given Msimango receiving two yellow cards.
Pirates upped the tempo in the second half in search of an equaliser and came close to scoring, but they were denied by excellent goalkeeping from Marlon Heugh early in the half.
Good defensive work kept Galaxy in the game despite losing skipper Msimango in the first half. Galaxy held on for their victory, which saw them leapfrog Baroka and move into the top eight.
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