Orlando Pirates continued their poor record in the Telkom Knockout competition by bombing out in the quarterfinal.
Bucs had shown some resilience to come from behind twice‚ trying to give themselves a chance to beat an irrepressible Polokwane City at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
Pirates‚ however‚ ended up losing 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after their defenders Ntsikelelo Nyauza and Marc van Heerden failed to convert their spot kicks after the match had ended 2-2 in 120 minutes.
Nyauza played a commendable role in Bucs’ terrific fightback, scoring the equaliser in the 13th minute before Mpho Makola headed in another leveller before halftime after Polokwane striker Rendani Ndou had completed his brace.
While Pirates have played in eight of the previous 35 finals since the competition started in 1982‚ they have tasted success just once, in beating Bidvest Wits 3-1 in the 2011 final.
Pirates’ record is disastrous compared with that of Kaizer Chiefs‚ who have lifted the trophy a record 13 times after contesting 17 finals. Mamelodi Sundowns are next, having won three of seven finals.
Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic was visibly distraught after once again seeing his side creating a number of chances but failing to be rewarded.
"It’s been the story of our season and I can’t blame the players for lack of trying‚" Sredojevic said.
"We did everything to win this match, but a combination of allowing our opponents to score two goals and us failing to take our chances‚ let us down."
Most of the lost chances Sredojevic mentioned were those of attackers Makola‚ Thembinkosi Lorch‚ substitute Thabiso Kutumela and Thamsanqa Gabuza — who despite missing one of the big chances in the match — had a great game on Saturday, contributing with two assists in Pirates’ goals.
Sredojevic’s decision on who to start with in Bucs’ goal after Wayne Sandilands had a horrific game in the midweek 3-1 defeat against Sundowns was one of the talking points ahead of the match. But after the game, Sredojevic said that he had no option but to start again with the Bafana keeper after he was forced to make a number of changes in defence.
"When planning for a starting lineup, you take into account a number of things.
"Innocent Maela and Abbubaker Mobara got injured. When you look at the goalkeeping department, you had four defenders in front of our keeper and we already had two changes," he said.
"I had to play Sandilands to stabilise the defence and I think he did very well‚ only to be let down by other players by not cutting out the danger in both goals that we conceded."
The Serbian promised to fix Bucs’ ailments in defence as well as up front.
He is relishing the two-week Fifa international break‚ hoping it will help him tie up a number of loose ends before they host second-placed Golden Arrows in a league encounter on November 21.