Coach Rulani Mokwena praised an excellent all-round performance from striker Tshegofatso Mabasa on Saturday, as the Buccaneers finally picked up a first win under their new head coach with a 2-1 Absa Premiership success over Chippa United at the Orlando Stadium.
The pressure was building on Mokwena, after four games without a win, following the resignation of Milutin Sredojevic, and with the Buccaneers knocked out of the MTN8 and Caf Champions League.
Mabasa’s second-half double, however, gave Pirates a deserved three points, though they did have to stave off a late rally from Clinton Larsen’s Chippa.
“Apart from the goals (it was) the amount of work he did,” said Mokwena of Mabasa, after the 22- year-old had netted his first two goals since signing for the club this season from Bloemfontein Celtic.
“We asked him to work on Chippa’s back three of (Frederic) Nsabiyumva, (Boikanyo) Komane and (Kelvin) Moyo, he did a lot of work in trying to assist the high press, I thought he was outstanding with that. With his movement, we still have a lot of work to do, but over and above this, what the media and the supporters probably don’t see is what a boy he is. He is extremely intelligent and understands tactics and the game, but he is also so humble and listens to everything you ask of him.
“What more can you say as coach when you have such honest, hard-working players, if a striker is not selfish but also tries to create space and defend for the team, and then eventually gets the ball in the box (and scores) … he is a different profile to the other strikers, he also knows how important (Justin) Shonga, (Gabadinho) Mhango and (Zakhele) Lepasa are, and it is for him to compete for the role.”
Pirates handed a debut to French goalkeeper Joris Delle on Saturday, and he performed pretty well, keeping out a late header from Nsabiyumva. Chippa had already rallied to get back in the game through Lerato Manzini’s strike, after Delle might have done better to push Rhulani Manzini’s free-kick away from danger.
“Pirates played well, and (Fortune) Makaringe deserved to be Man of the Match, I thought he was exceptional, but we could have got a point based on the pressure we put on them in the last 15 to 20 minutes,” said Larsen.
“But now we have two games against Bloemfontein Celtic and Maritzburg and we must make sure we get the business done.”