Pirates advance to Confed Cup group stage

Happy Jele, Ntshikelelo Nyauza and Kermit Erasmus celebrates during the CAF Confederation Cup match between Orlando Pirates and AS Kaloum at Bidvest Stadium on June 06, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Thamsanqa Gabuza endeared himself to the Ghost when his brace helped Orlando Pirates sail to the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup with a 6-1 win, on aggregate, over Guinea’s AS Kaloum at Bidvest Stadium.

His brace, along with goals from Kermit Erasmus and Sifiso Myeni saw the Soweto outfit win 4-1 on the day, with the visitor’s goal coming from Agogo Camara. Pirates had won the first leg 2-0, with Gabuza also on the score sheet that day.

The result means that the Bucaneers are only the third team from the country to reach the tournament’s last eight in this current format, following in the footsteps of Mamelodi Sundowns and Santos. Gabuza had been important for the side in this tournament in their away matches in Uganda, Gabon and in Mali in the first leg. The fans who have been on his back had not seen any of that performance, that was until he delivered in front of a packed Bidvest Stadium. They even gave him a standing ovation when he was substituted, to bring on Lennox Bacela.

Pirates coach Eric Tinkler replaced the suspended duo of Siyabonga Sangweni and Mpho Makola with Ntshikelelo Nyauza and Thabo Rakhale in his bid to keep their undefeated run, at home in continental football in the last two years, intact. Tinkler, Sifiso Myeni and Lehlohonolo Masalesa who started on the bench were more at home than anyone having made their names in Milpark.

But there was no time for Tinkler to reminisce as he wanted to win badly, playing every moment in this match on the touchline. Even though the mentor will start the 2015/16 as Pirates’ coach, it’s still a vague contract which he hopes to change. He couldn’t have asked for a better showing to prove his point with this drubbing.

Erasmus put Pirates ahead five minutes before the hour mark after Gabuza worked hard to create the goal. Gabuza beat the oncoming goalkeeper Youssouf Toure to set up an Erasmus who only had one defender to beat in a somewhat empty net. He made no mistake. Two minutes before halftime Erasmus should have made it two but he made a mistake from a free header.

Camara shook the Buccaneers when they lifted their feet from the pedal. His goal just at the start of the second half brought life back to a match that had been one-sided with the hosts dominating. It woke Pirates up. Erasmus started a move that was finished by Gabuza after a scramble in the box where he had missed Erasmus’ cross only to convert from Oupa Manyisa’s shot that the goalkeeper couldn’t control. Gabuza completed his brace five minutes later when he beat Toure in the near post. When Myeni scored the fifth, Pirates were having fun.

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