Orlando Pirates cruised to a 3-1 win over Light Stars in the Seychelles to seal their progression in the Caf Champions League with an 8-2 aggregate victory. SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN has picked out five things we learned from the encounter.
1) Gabuza still in Micho’s plans
After the striker’s sending off against Black Leopards back in August, where Gabuza clashed with his own fans, it looked as though there would be no spot for him in Milutin Sredojevic’s plans.
Gabuza has not featured for the team since, but made his return in the game against Light Stars. The big forward grabbed himself a goal, while also playing a role in another with a display that showed he may still have a future at the Buccaneers.
2) Pirates strength in depth an important weapon
Pirates bolstered their squad in the off-season, signing no less than nine players, clearly with an eye on the Caf Champions Leagu, and it looks as though that decision is starting to pay off.
With the Telkom Knokckout final on the weekend, Sredojevic could rest a number of his star men for the trip to the Seychelles due to the strength in depth of the squad.
With the players at his disposal it will now be up to Micho to ensure he continues to pick the right combinations.
3) Set-pieces still an issue
The Sea Robbers may have cruised to a comfortable aggregate win, but there will still have been some issues for the Pirates coach to work through.
One of those issues is the team’s apparent weakness from set pieces. Pirates have conceded from corners or free kicks on a number of occasions this campaign and it is undoubtedly an area where Micho would want his chargers to improve.
4) Light Stars not the real test
Pitso Mosimane, the Mamelodi Sundowns head coach, referred to Lights Stars as the ‘Fisherman’ team when the draw for the preliminary round was made, and the former Bafana Bafana coach was not wrong.
Light Stars provided no test to the Buccaneers’ ambitions due to the non-professional nature of the side. Pirates, however, still needed to do the business. Now that progression has been sealed, the real test starts.
5) Mntambo finally finding his feet
Since his arrival at the club in July, Linda Mntambo has failed to nail down a regular place in the Pirates starting eleven, but his goal and overall performance against Light Stars showed that the midfielder is beginning to find his feet at Pirates.
Mntambo offers Pirates a different dimension in midfield and could prove to be a valuable asset as the season progresses.