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By Tshepo Ntsoelengoe

Football Journalist

Wasteful Pirates share spoils with Royal AM

Pirates remain in second spot with 50 points after 28 games, just two points ahead of SuperSport United.

Orlando Pirates only had themselves to blame for missed opportunities as they played to a 1-1 draw with Royal AM in a DStv Premiership encounter at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.

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The Buccaneers failed to use the opportunity to pull well ahead of SuperSport in the race for a second place finish, and a spot in next season’s Caf Champions League. 

Kaizer Chiefs, six points behind Pirates, are now almost certainly out of the running given their vastly inferior goal difference.

The Buccaneers remain in second with 50 points after 28 games, but are just two points ahead of SuperSport United. Both teams have two games left to play in their league campaign. The race between Riveiro’s men and Gavin Hunt’s charges promises to go right down to the wire.

Pirates host Sekhukhune United on May 13 while SuperSport are at home to Chiefs. And on May 20, Pirates visit AmaZulu and SuperSport travel to play Sekhukhune.

Coming into this match, Pirates coach Jose Riveiro made a number of changes to his squad, with the most notable being the inclusion of youngster Relebohile Ratomo, who was handed his DStv Premiership debut.

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Ratomo was immediately right in the action, and involved in most of Pirates’ most dangerous attacks.

Pirates could have gone into the lead as early as the 17th minute, but Deon Hotto’s shot went off target, while seconds later, Kermit Erasmus’ shot was cleared off the line.

The Soweto giants were all over Royal AM, but they just couldn’t find the back of the net. At the other end, Thwihli Thwahla midfielder Tebogo Potsane was trying his best to create some magic with his speed and skills. But he just couldn’t find a clear path through the Buccaneers defence.

Frustrated from not utilising their chances in the opening half, Pirates came out with guns blazing in the second period. Ratomo’s powerful shot from outside the box deflected off veteran 39 year-old Mozambican Elias Pelembe before going into the net to give the Buccaneers a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute. The strike was given as an own-goal.

The visitors started to find their rhythm as the game progressed, and enjoyed much of the ball possession while looking for an equaliser.

Royal AM almost found the breakthrough in the 73rd minute through substitute Mfundo Thikazi, but his striker was kept out of danger by Pirates goalkeeper Sipho Chaine. They finally found the equalising goal in additional minutes courtesy of former Pirates winger Menzi Masuku’s header.

Pirates will now have to pick themselves up for a massive game on Saturday, as they take on Soweto rivals Chiefs in the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup at FNB Stadium.

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