Welcome to Part 2 in our Los Piratas series with Orlando Pirates. The South African side have appointed Alex Sneddon (our author) as their manager, he will be hoping to take the Pirates back to the top of South African football. If you missed Part One, do go back and check it out through the link below.
The Manager’s Message
Following on from a successful pre season, I am confident going into the Cup matches against better opponents. The players are in good spirits and morale at the club is high. The supporters will be in full voice for the upcoming Cup games and they are truly our twelfth man.
August | Orlando Pirates
Wednesday 3rd August | Be The Coach Cup Final
- v Kaiser Chiefs | 2-1 victory
Pre-match – The Sowota derby has always been a fantastic occasion and I was excited to lead the team onto the pitch for my first ever competitive game. The atmosphere was simply electrifying and the stands were full of bright choreography from both sets of fans.
The team instructions were simple and I didn’t need to fire up the lads, they know what this fixture means to the fans. Be passionate and show the willingness to never give up, that’s what the Buccaneer fans demand.
Post-match – The players were geared up prior to kick-off and it showed as we dominated the opening ten minutes. Our perseverance finally paid off when an impressive cross delivered by Norodien from the left wing was headed into the net with ease by our quality striker Gabuza. We really settled well after going a goal up despite several dangerous attacks by the Chiefs. A quick counter-attack down the right flank led to another goal.
Another cross, this time from my other winger Makola and yet again Gabuza was there to score his second from another headed. So in the dressing room at half-time the players were as happy as me. The plan was to concentrate and maybe grab another. The second half got underway, we concede a penalty early doors. Norodien handled the ball in the box and now the chiefs had the opportunity to narrow the score. They did just that, it was hammered into the net by Tshabalala and the score was now 2-1. The game ended that way and we had beaten our bitter rivals to lift the trophy.
Despite the victory against the Chiefs, we paid a really heavy price. Our two-goal hero suffered a hip injury during training and will be sidelined for 2-5 months. This is a real blow for us, Tendai Ndoro will take his place. The Zimbabwean international has a lot to prove to the fans as he’s been inconsistent over the years. Now it was time to play another cup game, the Super 8 quarter-final tie at home. Our fans were expecting another good display. Let us see how it went…..
Tuesday 9th August | Super 8 Quarter Final
- v Bidvest Wits (home) | 3-1 victory
Pre-match – The players are up for this one after our previous match. We need the same start as last week and concentrate more on our defence. Preparation went well ahead of this match.
Post-match – What a start again from the team, eleven minutes gone and left back Marc Van Heerden fires a bullet of a free kick. I’m sure that would be shortlisted for goal of the month. Check this out….
We were in control and suddenly we concede a really sloppy goal on the stroke of half time. Bidvest were back in the game! I really was angry with the team at half time and felt they could do much better, they came out firing on all cylinders and once again a Norodien cross was converted by Makola. The game played out and we secured a third goal in the 82nd minute, a nice tap-in from Norodien. He thoroughly deserved the goal. We march on in the cup despite a nervy first half.
The draw took place shortly after the game and we were picked out the hat to play Platinum Stars in the semi final. The games will be played over two legs. First leg away and I would expect a really difficult game.
There is an eleven day break now and I’ve let the players take it easy. We haven’t lost or drawn a game yet and this will give them time to get together and keep the run going.
Saturday 20th August | Super 8 Semi-Final – Leg 1
- v Platinum Stars (away) | 3-0 victory
Pre-match – I was a little apprehensive about this game as I didn’t want the players to be complacent and think it was a foregone conclusion. Work still had to be done to ensure our place in the final.
Post-match – The players quickly turned my feelings into sheer joy. Twenty minutes gone, another goal from a free kick and this time from Mobara. This team is full of players who are deadly at set pieces. Nearing the end of the half and a long hopeful ball played up our defence caused chaos. The Stars defence and goalkeeper were all over the place. Ndoro took full advantage and netted his first goal of the season. We were in cruise mode despite the Stars having over 61% possession. The game went flat and I decided to give some players game time. Gcaba came on to replace Van Heeren and scored from a corner. He was only on the field of play less than two minutes. So another win and this time it looks like we are heading to the final. Here’s hoping we don’t collapse in the return leg.
Wednesday 24th August | League game (1)
- v Free State Stars (away) | 1-0 defeat
Pre-match – So we are on our travels again. The team head to the small village of Makwane which lies near the border with Lesotho. On paper this should be an easy win for us however, I don’t take any team for granted.
Post-match – Well the game was not as easy as forecasted. First league game of the season became a nightmare. Gyimah was sent off after 28 minutes and that really hurt our flow. Struggling in midfield and up against a gritty Stars side. Losing the game with a 71st minute tap-in from a cross ball was not good. We just looked jaded and never really got going. We smacked the post in the 90th minute and nearly grabbed a draw but it wasn’t meant to be. So here comes the bad news. Injuries galore… Ndoro, who replaced our top striker Guzabe, had to be taken off during the first half with a damaged heel. He will be sidelined for a fortnight. Unfortunately Happy Jele, our full back, suffered the same injury as Guzabe. Another hip injury to add to the list and he will be out of action for up to four months. Really disappointing and was hoping for a winning start in the league but we march on.
Saturday 27th August | Super 8 Semi-Final – Leg 2
- v Platinum Stars (home) | 1-0 victory
Pre-match – We are in total control of this tie and only need to shut up shop at the back. A three goal advantage from the first leg should be enough to earn the team a cup final place. Several changes for this game. Mobara steps back in the side to replace Jele at right back, Saar comes into midfield as he needs game time. He played during pre season but hasn’t featured in any competitive games. One notable introduction is 23 year old Ghanaian striker Bernard Morrison. He’s scored 5 in 6 games for the reserves so gets his chance. Remember, we have no Guzabe or Ndoro. Here we go…
Post match – The game was end to end stuff and eventually a goal came. Morrison who had stepped in for the game grabbed the goal in the 83rd minute after Makola outpaced their left back and delivered a low cross. I’m glad we got the win and ended the month with only one defeat.
We have made the Super 8 final!
The results during the month of August are as follows….
My evaluation of the month
Overall the performances have been really good and to be given the chance of winning two trophies before December would be phenomenal. The league game was poor but I felt the players showed so much effort four days before in the cup game. We really played the Platinum Stars off the park!
The worse part of the month has been injuries. Losing our top striker (Guzabe) so early and our left back (Jele) hasn’t impacted the side however as the players brought in have done an outstanding job and are fighting for their place in the first team.
So we proceed onto the month of September. I’m confident that we can pick up at least 9 points across the five games shown below. Sundowns won’t be easy and this gives me a chance to see them play before we come up against them in the Super 8 final.
Expectations for the month ahead
So we enter the month of September with high hopes and expectations. Time to concentrate on the league and hopefully get some points on the board. This month we face some tough opponents – our main rivals Kaiser Cheifs will pay us a visit and we all know what the Soweto derby match is like. I’m optimistic about the replacements who have come in to help overcome the loss of our striker and left back. The players are on international duty for their respective countries competing in the African Cup of Nations Qualifiers. Let’s hope they remain injury free!
The club has decided to send two members of our coaching staff to obtain more proficient training licences. This will improve their effectiveness in coaching our players.
September | Orlando Pirates
Saturday 10th September | League game (2)
- v Mamelodi Sundowns (away) | 4-2 victory
Pre-match – The current South African champions are on a thirteen match unbeaten run going into this game. Their run of form has been outstanding and they are on a high after beating Kaiser Chiefs last week to secure a Super 8 cup final against us. We must be vigilant about this match as they haven’t lost a home match all season. I would be more than happy to take a point from this game. Bernard Morrison will be absent for this game as he’s picked up an injury whilst playing for Ghana. The good news is Ndoro is back again.
Post-match – What a fantastic game of football from both sets of players. I’m in shock but one very happy manager tonight. We scored early on from some great passing in midfield and Makola scored from four yards out after eighteen minutes. Two minutes later, we win a free kick and yet again Marc Van Heerden steps up with another thunderbolt of a free kick. Here it is….
Sundowns got a goal back fifteen minutes later but Makola was at it again and after dribbling past four players he slotted the ball past their keeper. The hat trick was complete ten minutes after the break. Sundowns got a consolation goal at the end but overall we thoroughly deserved the three points. I’m so happy and now two home games in a row – time to climb the league!
Saturday 14th September | League game (3)
- v Golden Arrows (home) | 3-1 victory
Pre-match – Following our magnificent victory on the road to the champions, we are brought back down to reality at the Orlando Stadium for our home match against a team who are struggling. The same eleven from last week will play on the pitch today. I’m really confident about this one and would be bitterly disappointing if we failed to get three points.
Post-match – Well what a whirlwind of a game. Our supporters were silenced after only four minutes. The Arrows went one up through some terrible defending from our central defenders. I was still confident we would come back and it happened. Just before the break from a corner kick, Okwuosa headed in the top corner of the net for the equaliser.
We left it very late indeed, Norodien took a chance with a long range effort and it ended up being a goal. What a game he had, man of the match he deserved today. The final goal was scored by none other than Ndoro. Game over, not convincing however it’s three points and that’s was the objective.
Saturday 17th September | League game (4)
- v Highlands Park (home) | 1-0 victory
Pre-match – Second home game in a row and we take on 4th place Highlands Park. A victory here would see us leapfrog them and possibly make the top three, depending on other results. Couple of changes have to be made due to suspensions. Matlaba comes into right back and Gyimah sits in a defensive midfield position. Not overly confident however the home fans may be our twelve man.
Post-match – A narrow win for the mighty pirates, I’m happy with that. One goal was enough to take all three points. Matlaba was the scorer and all credit to him. He ran all the way from his right back position to sneak in and claim a goal. We deserved the victory and I need to mention Highlands Park as they did have some clear cut opportunities to equalise but couldn’t convert them. A much needed victory and this now shows the rest of the teams that we mean business this season. The win moves us up to third position in the league table.
Wednesday 21st September | League game (5)
- v Maritzburg United (away) 0–0 draw
Pre-match – We play a team who are undefeated at home this season. They have taken points of Sundowns and Highlands Park so they have proved to be a tough team to beat. I would settle for a point but a victory would be even sweeter as our players would be brimming with confidence ahead of the Soweto Derby against the Chiefs.
Post-match – The first half drew to a close without a goal, however we came closest to breaking the deadlock through a brilliant piece of play. Ndoro just couldn’t beat the keeper and the rebound went out for a corner. The goals never came and the game was not a classic. I’m happy to take a point as Maritzburg are not an easy team to beat, especially at their stadium.
Moment of reflection
So as we prepare for our last game in the month of September, I thought a team meeting would be fitting prior to our big game. The morale within the squad is really good and just an odd few are asking for first team football. They have been told the team are playing well and I can’t just drop anyone for the sake of it. Interesting to note that our last 10 games have all been televised, this is great in terms of revenue and advertising purposes. We have kept injury free this month (so far) and hopefully it will remain that way.
Wednesday 28th September | League game (6)
- v Kaiser Chiefs (home) | 2-0 defeat
Pre-match – Another sell out crowd at the Orlando Stadium for the biggest derby in the South African footballing calendar. Johannesburg has been took over by footballing fanatics and a total media frenzy all week. A tough game as always – if we get a win then it’s six games undefeated and depending on results elsewhere, we could top the table tonight.
Post-match – First half ends in a stalemate, the chiefs had the better of it and we are lucky to be going in at half time drawing. Only carved open one chance so far to the chiefs seven chances. Two second-half goals from the chiefs ended our run. We didn’t deserve anything from the game and all credit to them.
We find ourselves sitting in 4th position after six games. We would have been second if we had been victorious over the rivals but it wasn’t meant to be. Kaiser Chiefs have a games in hand due to their African Champions League venture and they could soon climb the table. Golden Arrows are rooted to the bottom and still seek their first win.
Results for the month of September:
10 points from a possible 15 is really good. I’m very pleased with that.
The months of October, November and December will follow in my next blog. Only four games in October and that includes the Super 8 final against Sundowns. In November, we only have 3 games due to the International break. I hope you all enjoyed the read!
Thanks for reading Part Two of a new Football Manager story by Alex Sneddon, a new author here on VivaLaVidaFM. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give it a like and leave your feedback in the comments section below.
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