Welcome to Part 3 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 Two, do go back and check it out through the link below.
Orlando Pirates | Part 3
In this post, we are playing all the way through to the end of year. This will take us to the halfway stage of the league campaign. Cup competitions will also start up, so this is a vital part of the campaign to do well in.
After looking at the form and consistency levels of the upcoming opposition teams, I would be aiming for 18+ points out of a possible 27. Ajax CT away will be a tough fixture as they are currently sitting top of the table undefeated from their opening six games.
Cup Final Day against the Sundowns
But before all of our league fixtures, we had to play the Cup Final which finally arrived at the FWB Stadium in Soweto. The atmosphere around the stadium was superb as both sets of fans mingled around the huge 87,000 arena. I was hoping for more silverware and I got my wish. The first half was a proper cup final with end to end action and I was amazed the game was 0-0 at halftime. The second half continued the same way as the first with plenty of chances at both ends. Mobara was sent off for us after a dreadful tackle on their centre-forward midway through the second half and I really thought we would lose our discipline and shape after that.
We held the ship steady and then another red card appeared for one of our players. Okwuosa the culprit this time. So playing with nine men at this point was crazy. We stood our ground and held out for a nil-nil at full-time. With extra time looming it was time for a tactical change. I opted to contain the Sundowns and be more organised. The tactical change paid off as Ndoro grabbed us an unlikely goal. One up and under the cosh now. Sundowns pushing forward and all of a sudden we counter-attack and scored a second goal. Ndoro once again did the damage.
The final whistle blows and we had won the cup with a very determined and tired bunch of players. Ecstatic is the word to use at this moment. Two pieces of silverware in the bag already in my first season with the pirates.
Here are the goals – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Euowz9FOZ1g
Postponed Cup competition
The South African knockout cup was postponed. The tournament was scheduled for mid-October but the Football Association cancelled the competition without giving a reason. I’m putting it down to the African Cup of Nations qualifiers as I can’t think of any other reason. On the bright side, I’m glad as it would have caused fixture congestion anyway and the completion was only running for seven days.
Back to league business
The players returned from international duty after two weeks, no injuries during that period which is great. Our top striker Gabuza returned although Ndoro has been in exceptional form so getting back into the side may have to wait a little longer.
October | Orlando Pirates
We played one game at home and two away. We were victorious over Bloem Celtic at Orlando Stadium and what a game it was. We won the match 4-1 with the help of a couple of Bloem defenders, two own goals in the space of ten minutes helped and more importantly we secured three points for the pirates.
Our next game was away to league leaders Ajax CT. Ajax CT are undefeated in the league and I anticipated a hard-fought draw or maybe even a defeat. Incredibly, we battled for a 3-0 thumping on their own patch. Ndoro was on top form, scoring two and assisting Norodien for the third. The score was a flattering as they played very well but couldn’t get past our solid defensive line.
Supersport Utd was the next opponents and once again we were on our travels. They’re less than 30 miles away so it was good to have a nice short journey for a change. A deserved 3-0 victory, Ndoro scored another two goals. Second in the table now and only 4 points behind Ajax CT. We march on!!
November | Orlando Pirates
Home games galore this month and we needed the advantage. This was great for us and the fans as we’ve been travelling too much over the last few weeks plus all the teams we play this month are struggling for results. Platinum Stars were the visitors and they never really threatened us. We were 2-0 up in the first half and cruising, it should have been about five. Good to see our young 18-year-old prodigy Mbulu on the score sheet, his first ever goal for the club after been moved from our under 18’s squad.
International break came and went but the players returned in a happy mood as their respective countries all had victories. Our opponents were the Bidwest Wits and they were sent packing. Twenty minutes on the clock and that man Ndoro was on the scoresheet again. Eight goals now for the season and surely more to come. A 2-1 win pleased our fans.
Baroka FC were our next opponents and a very hard team to beat. We scraped a 1-0 win, an injury time winner by Motupa saved us and kept our winning streak intact. 3 wins from 3 ends a rather satisfying month for the Pirates.
December | Orlando Pirates
So six games won in a row and flying high. We managed to overtake Ajax CT in the table now as they were struggling against the relegation-threatened sides. Heading to the famous Port Elizabeth near Nelson Mandela bay next to face Chippa Utd. The attendance was around 500 and the pirate fans outnumbered the home crowd. Over 350 fans made the 10-hour bus journey and we rewarded them with a victory. We didn’t play well and had to wait until the last twenty minutes to break the deadlock. Ndoro was the man of the hour once again.
Polokwane City away next and a three-hour bus journey north. I held a team meeting during the journey to thank the players for their efforts and passion this season and it worked wonders. Another one of Van Heerden’s thunderbolt freekicks and a Ndoro goal were enough to secure another win on the road.
The last game before the Christmas break was at home to Cape Town City. The game finished 2-2 and we looked jaded. We were 2-0 down at halftime and didn’t look like scoring In the second half we were more positive and fought back. It took a 92nd minute injury time goal to save us from defeat. Overall the team has been playing excellent and we desreved to retain our unbeaten streak.
The results are listed below…
The league table as it stands…
The graph below shows how slow we started but as the season progressed there have been big changes.
League is now on shutdown until February as the African Nations Cup will be played during this time. Let’s hope that none of our players return with any injuries. During these months I will be looking at the players’ form and evaluating any changes in their attributes or personality. This also gives me an opportunity to look at contractual agreements and any potential youngsters to sign.
Thanks for reading Part Three 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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