Bidvest Wits went into the second leg of their match against Orlando Pirates with 2 goals already against them. Last night, Pirates put on a top-class performance at Orlando Stadium to move into the MTN 8 final with another 3 goals against the Clever Boys. The match finished 3-1.
Wits failed to stop the Buccaneers from reaching a fifth consecutive final and four MTN 8 final appearances in the last five years.
The Clever Boys came with intention to attack judging from their starting line up that included Sithembiso Ngcobo playing in the first half with hope to net one early in the first half.
Indeed in the first half, The Clever Boys showed consistency in pilling on the pressure from the start, leading with good ball possession and forcing Pirates back into their own half.
Bidvest Wits early goal attempt in the 3rd minute failed to put the team ahead when Vincent Pule’s shot went over the bar.
Ngcobo could have also have had a goal to his name if it wasn’t for a defence tackle from Happy Jele which saw Ngcobo’s attempt, combined with Toriq Losper’s pass go wide off.
Enjoying a sustained period of ball dominance, Bidvest Wits’ third chance came from defender Buhle Mkhwanazi, who out-ruled Siyabonga Sangweni in the 11th minute to steer his header that went wide of the mark from close range.
Pirates’ goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa had no trouble deflecting Bidvest Wits’ ambitious attempts when he saved Bidvest Wits’ captain, Sibusiso Vilakazi’ shot in the 30th minute.
Pirates started gaining momentum towards the end of the first half, with Erasmus, who often found himself off-side, breaking through Bidvest Wits’ backline with tremendous pace, only to have his efforts halted.
The second half kicked off with both teams’ score sheet still empty, putting more pressure on the Wits side as time was running out and still no early goal from Wits.
Wits nearly scored a minute after halftime when Ngcobo steered his header wide of the target.
Erasmus took charge again when he paced through Wits’ backline and finished with a solid lead goal. Wits quickly closed the widening score gap when Gataneh Kebede won and converted an equalising penalty kick in the 76th minute.
Pirates coach, Vladimir Vermerzovic’s game changer, Lehlohonolo Majoro impressed the crowd when he came on and netted a brilliantly angled shot received from Sifiso Myeni’s header in the 84th minute, making Orlando Pirates lead with a 2-1.
Without hesitation, the striker finished a 3-1 lead when he strategically beat the offside trap and sent his shot over Wits goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane who advanced towards “Major” in an attempt to deflect his 2nd victory.
Major’s finish made the climb steeper for Wits who could not cover four goals to advance to the final stage.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt was clearly disappointed: “We were dead and buried even before they scored the first goal”.
“All credit to them for breaking away on the second goal of death, we were dead and buried even before they scored the first goal”, said Hunt.
ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END: Bloem Celtic team mates consoling tearful Limbikani Mzava after his penalty was saved by Mabokgwane, seeing The Clever Boys advance to the semi-finals with a 4-3 score. Photo: Nqobile Dludla
By Nqobile Dludla and Luca Kotton
Bivest Wits advanced to the semi-finals of the season’s first big tournament after trashing Bloemfontein Celtic 4-3 on penalties at the Bidvest Stadium on Friday night.
Wits goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane won the game for the Clever Boys by saving an attempt from Celtic’s Limbikani Mzava with the game at 4-3 in the MTN8 tournament. The match ended goalless after 120 minutes of play.
First to take the penalty from The Clever Boys was newly signed midfielder Dillon Sheppard who sent Bloem Celtic goalkeeper, Patrick Tignyemb flying the opposite direction giving his team a 1-0 lead.
Trying to catch up to The Clever Boys, Alfred Ndengane’s attempt was quickly deflected by Mabokgwane leaving the penalty score at 1-0.
Toriq Losper and Relato Lamola both added to the scoreboard, putting Bidvest Wits 2-1 over Celtic.
Despite the the crowd cheering on Clever Boys captain Sibusiso Vilakazi as he prepared to take a shot at penalty, he was denied by Tignyemb allowing Celtic to recover to 2-2 after Musa Lakay slotted his shot in. But Sthembiso Ngcobo quickly advanced the home team, earning Wits a 3-2 lead.
The unavoidable scoring machine, Joel Mogorosi caught up with The Clever Boys, equalising the score. While Phunya Sele Sele were still enjoying the equal scoreline, Onismor Bhasera sent Tignyemb flying the opposite direction, putting The Clever Boys in the lead with 4-3.
The goalless draw
The opening half saw Bidvest Wits failing to capitalise on promising goal opportunities. New defender Buhle Mkhwanazi’s header failed to materialise after receiving a corner kick from man of the match, Toriq Losper, sending it well wide.
While a failed free kick from Jabulani Shongwe had Bloem Celtic goalkeeper, Tignyemb reminding The Clever Boys why he is the best at what he does, the Witsies maintained pressure on the Bloem Celtic back line.
Coming in for a rebound, Losper’s header was denied by Tignyemb after receiving a well angled pass from Henrico Botes.
Bidvest Wits’ were often awarded corner kicks much to the frustration of Bloem Celtic coach, Ernst Middendorp, who spent a good part of the match jumping up and down on the sidelines and punching the air in frustration.
“There were a lot of fouls from Wits to which the referee refused to take notice of”, Middendorp said after the match.
Despite Midderndorp’s frustration, Bloem Celtic’s Ruben Cloete managed to break the Clever Boys back line only to have his attempt fly over the top of Mabokgwane’s goal post.
While the game gained momentum towards the dying minutes of the second half, the score still stood at 0-0 at stoppage time witnessing the game move into 30 minutes of extra time.
Bidvest Wits coach, Gavin Hunt told Wits Vuvuzela after the match: “We had a couple of opportunities and they [Bloem Celtic] also had a good couple of opportunities. I thought they battled well; they worked hard and outfought us but we stuck and held our ground”.