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SA SOCCER NEWS

'Bucs' tame Leopards


Orlando Pirates picked themselves from the canvas to record a morale-boosting 2-0 victory; adding more woes to fellow-strugglers Black Leopards in a flowing Castle Premiership game at Ellis Park on Wednesday night.

Trying to end a losing streak that has been hampering their progress - with a disjointed technical team adding more miseries into the camp - Pirates deserve the praise as they played with passion.

For former Leopards coach, Bibey Mutombo, the win was just the tonic, having been castigated for Mulutin Sredojevic departure.

Taking the captain's armband for the first time since being cleared from off-the-field issues, goal-scorer, Benedict Vilakazi also produced a display of breath-taking virtuoso, and his goal through a header after right back Lucky Lekgwathi's cross in the 38th minute, said it all.

The pint-sized Bafana Bafana international played with a swagger that has been badly missed by the 'Happy People' this season; combination with Onyekachi Onkonkwo exposing the Leopards midfield, who failed to contain the duo.

The 'Buccaneers' second goal through new recruit Manuel Bucuane, who looped the ball over the advancing Thabang Stemmer on the hour-mark was also beauty as it wrapped up the game for Pirates.

The home side made a nervous start with the visitors defenders repelling their scoring chances. But they sprung to life when Nigerian international Okonkwo tried his trademark thunderbolts that failed to threaten Stemmer.

Spurred on by their biggest crowd thus far in 2006/07, Pirates started to dictate and when Lekgwathi was given ample space to cross to the unmarked 'Little Napolean' to score his second successive goal this year, it was evident that the once sleeping giant of Soweto was determined to awaken.

For 'Lidoda Duvha', who have been on the road in the past four successive games, the loss was a bad omen for them after holding current leaders Silver Stars to a stalemate.

If the first half was not disheartening for 'Lidoda Duvha', the second stanza was Pirates at its audacious best as they exposed their counterparts to the extreme.

Bucuane hit the upright with Stemmer well-beaten - but 12 minutes later, he responded with style to beat him and make the score 2-0 to the delight of the tough-tackling Mutombo.

Leopards were unlucky when an error-prone Francis Chansa redeemed himself by keeping out substitute Tornado Mongale's great header in the 76th minute.

Jurry Merahe, Paulus Masehe and Bongani Cashibe made second half cameos for Jabu Mahlangu, Bucuane and Vilakazi, respectively, and they added some impetus into the game, despite failing to score.

With the two teams clashing again in the unbearable scorching heat of Limpopo on Saturday, Leopards will be looking for revenge, while Pirates must prove that their first win of 2007 was not a fluke.

Pirates (4-4-2): Francis Chansa, Lucky Lekgwathi, Innocent Mdledle, Lucas Thwala, Tonic Chabalala, Onyekachi Onkonkwo, Benedict Vilakazi (Bongani Cashibe 85), Jabu Mahlangu (Jurry Merahe 66), Fikru Tefera, Rudzani Ramudzuli, Manuel Bucuane (Paulus Masehe 77).

Coach: Bibey Mutombo

Leopards (4-4-2): Thabang Stemmer, Luvhengo Mungomeni, Mandla Zwane, Peter Mponda, Paulo Matola, Camagu Ncoko (Wanani Mulaudzi 75), Hlompho Kekana, Jabulani Maluleke, Robert Ng?ambi (Tornado Mongale 55), Walter Ramulondi (Thabiso Hlalele 46), Myron Shongwe.

Coach: Hans-Dieter Schmidt

Referee: Charl Theron

Cautions: Vilakazi 21, Tefra 34, Maluleke 58.

By Patrick Baloyi

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- 'Bucs' tame Leopards
- Preview - Maritzburg v Celtic
Sunday, January 28
Castle Premiership

Swallows v Premier United 
Kick-off: 3.45pm
Venue: Germiston Stadium

January 20
Castle Premiership
Draw 0-0 v Pirates
Venue: Ellis Park

January 14
Castle Premiership
Won 1-0 v Silver Stars
Venue: Germiston Stadium

January 10
Castle Premiership
Lost 0-1 v Supersport
Venue:
 Loftus Stadium

Sunday, January 7
Castle Premiership
Draw 2-2 v Leopards
Venue:
Germiston Stadium

Wednesday, December 20
Castle Premiership
Won 1-0 v AmaZulu
Venue: Princess Magogo

POLL
Where will the \'Beautiful Birds\' finish this season?

Win the league
 6%
Top three
 19%
Top five
 38%
Top eight
 38%