By: CHRIS TOTOBELA
On Sunday 10 June, football fans came in numbers to witness the Makana LFA decider between City Pirates and second placed Jacaranda Aces. Pirates came into this game with a three points lead over Aces but Aces had a better goal difference.
Both teams came into this game highly motivated after their Saturday performances, as Aces thrashed Riebeck City, who were unbeaten at home, by 6-0 while Pirates came from 0-2 down to beat Sophia stars 3-2 in a five goal thriller.
The decider started at a blistering pace with Pirates getting the first clear chance of the game after a neat move from the midfield that saw Unathi Mantolo narrowly missing the target. The game openned up nicely and Pirates opened the scoring after a setpiece that caught the Aces defenders ball watching and got punished by a close range header from Mandilakhe Ntsendwana. This was the only score in the first half, resulting in Pirates leading by 1-0 at half time.
In the second half, Aces played with more confidence and took the game to Pirates. The Aces midfielders started to settle and they started playing a very good passing game, which had Pirates under serious pressure forcing them to make errors at the back. It was no surprise when Aces found an equaliser via the boot of Luxolo Bacela after the Pirates keeper blocked a long range shot into his path.
The game became more tense as both teams pushed forward. The lack of composure in the last third of the field seemed to be the downfall of both teams. The referee had a good game and allowed the game to flow. Aces nearly stole the show after a neat move but saw their shot being blocked by Pirates defenders. Neither team managed to score the decider, meaning that the final score remained 1-1.
Pirates’s public relations officer, Luntu Jela, said after the game, “it was a good but tough game and we knew that they were going to come hard at us. We wanted to catch them on the counter but they came very strongly in the last ten minutes. I think we are ready for the SAB regional league now and would like to see our fans coming in numbers as they have done here today,” said Jela.
Aces’ s assistant coach, Khayalethu Sneli, said, “we are very proud of our boys as they played their hearts out and fought until the last minute. We would like to congratulate Pirates and also thank the people of Grahamstown who came in numbers to support these two teams today. We have fallen short today but we will surely bounce back in the next season,” said Sneli.
Pirates refused to take the trophy after the game and said they would rather wait for the medals too so that they collect everything at once. Makana LFA secretary Akhona Heshu explained the situation. “We called both managers and explained to them that the trophy presentation would be done immediately after the game but had a problem with our medals and both teams agreed. Pirates’s manager came back after the game and told us that they were not going to accept the trophy so as to give us time to sort everything. We have now moved the presentation to next weekend,” said Heshu.