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Pirates crash out of Champions League after loss to Ramoreboli's Jwaneng Galaxy

Sithembiso Dindi Sports Reporter
Orlando Pirates' Deon Hotto (left) challenged by Kutlwelo Mpolokang of Jwaneng Galaxy during the Caf Champions League 2023/24 match at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on the 29 September 2023.
Orlando Pirates' Deon Hotto (left) challenged by Kutlwelo Mpolokang of Jwaneng Galaxy during the Caf Champions League 2023/24 match at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on the 29 September 2023.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates’ excitement about their return to the Caf Champions League was short-lived after they were knocked out by Jwaneng Galaxy through penalty shoot-outs in the preliminary round. 

The Botswana side, which is coached by South African Morena Ramoreboli who has a history with Pirates, progressed to the group stages after beating Pirates 5-4 on penalties at Orlando Stadium on Friday night.

This after a 66th-minute strike by Pirates’ second-half substitute Evidence Makgopa forced the game to be decided through penalties as the side were locked at 1-1 after 180 minutes of play in the two legs.

That was because Galaxy won the first leg at home with the same scoreline, and Pirates failed to win the match by a two-goal cushion. 

Galaxy scored all their spot kicks as Pirates youngster Relebohile Mofokeng had his shot saved by the visitors’ goalkeeper Goitseone Phoko. 

Pirates were looking to arrest their poor run that saw them lose three games in succession.

That run started with a defeat to the Botswana side and was followed by a 1-0 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns in the DStv Premiership and also to Stellenbosch FC in the MTN8 with the same scoreline.

However, Pirates progressed to the MTN8 final due to an away goals rule as they were tied on 2-2 after the second leg.

Against Galaxy on Friday, the Soweto giants played like a side that needed the victory at all costs, dominating play from the first minutes with their visitors subjected to defending for the duration of the match.

Pirates created countless chances in the first half, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.

This was despite some great efforts by players such as Zakhele Lepasa, Paseka Mako, danger man Patrick Maswanganyi and Tapelo Xoki.

Credit should also be given to Galaxy’s goalkeeper Phoko for the visitors not conceding in the opening half as he made a few crucial saves.

Pirates' mentor made crucial changes early into the second half, as he brought in Karim Kimvuidi, Bandile Shandu and Makgopa for Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo, Thabiso Monyane and Lepasa.

After numerous attempts by Pirates and more excellent saves by Galaxy shot-stopper Phoko, Makgopa provided a huge relief for the hosts when he scored on the 66 minutes.

His shot deflected off a Galaxy defender to beat Phoko, who really seemed to be unbeatable on the night.

After the goal, the Ramoreboli-coached side started to take the game to Pirates, with an aim to restore their advantage.

However, Pirates continued to dominate, and their forward Kermit Erasmus was unfortunate not to increase the scoreboard pressure when he was denied by the woodwork after his thunderous shot on 77 minutes. 

In 2013, Ramoreboli led third-tier side Maluti FET College to a 4-1 victory over Pirates and knocked them out of the Nedbank Cup.


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