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Match Reports
Orlando Pirates v Spurs, 26.07.03

SATURDAY 26TH JULY, 2003
FRIENDLY FIXTURE
ORLANDO PIRATES 2 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)

Orlando scorers:-
Lekoeea, 75
Manyathela, 85 (pen)

Spurs scorer:-
o.g, 76 (Postiga cross/shot turned into goal)

Attendance:- 20,000 approx

Referee:- Petros Mathabela

Teams:-
Orlando Pirates (4-4-2): Mayala, Musasa (Dinha, 84), Mabizela, Khomane, Netshodwe, Phakatadi, Tshabalala, Makhanya (Lekoelea, 62), Thwala, Manyathela, Tshamala (Kauleze, 52).

Spurs (3-4-1-2): Burch, Carr, Taricco (Galbraith, 86), Gardner, Perry, Etherington, Redknapp (Anderton, 80), Toda, Davies, Poyet (Keane, 65), Postiga.

Spurs Odyssey is grateful to Ralph Hohls for his reports from South Africa

A warm afternoon saw Spurs take on the first of their South African opponents, Orlando Pirates (the Buccaneers). We were sat in the East stand, with the sun setting in our eyes, eagerly waiting to see what the 2003/2004 Spurs team would offer up. Sadly, most of us trudged out of the ground 90 + minutes later feeling like we'd seen a repeat of the last half of last season. The team did not look up for it, and had no more than 5 shots on target the whole game. Having said that the pitch had a rugby match played on it the night before, and the grass looked long and thick from where we were sitting high up in the upper east stand.

Spurs started out with Carr playing wide on the right in midfield with Tarrico behind him in the right back position. Carr didn't really look comfortable to me, and had his usual scowl on his face for most of the match. His handball later looked almost deliberate. I must say I'm not convinced that he wants to stay at Spurs, but perhaps I'm just fueled by all the press in recent months.

Postiga was basically alone upfront until Keane arrived to help. He looked isolated and was frequently frustrated by the Pirates defence. The first 10 mins were relatively comfortable with Spurs team looking very relaxed, bordering on a little lethargic. Within 5 minutes, Jamie Redknapp, had sent in a good cross, which had the Pirates keeper confused as he left it to a defender who didn't take charge. Unfortunately the ball flashed harmlessly across the goal. On around 10 mins Matty Etherington, crossed the ball into the box after good build up play from Gus, once Jamie had fed him.

A minute later, Pirates threatened for the first time, a through ball finding a Pirates player and he was not flagged off-side (much to the dismay of the Tottenham crew behind me). Fortunately, (and not for the last time this afternoon I was later to observe), Chris Perry did what he often does best IMHO...get in a basic and decisive tackle to rob Pirates of a goal scoring opportunity. On 13 mins, Pirates midfielder Mumasa flashed the 1st of many shots high, wide and handsomely over the bar. Spurs appeared to be getting into some sort of rhythm as Gus sent through a good scything pass that Helder Postiga almost latched onto.

20 minutes into the game and keeper Burch had not yet been tested, but finally a Pirates shot found the target area and Rob Burch was able to burn some energy making a comfortable save. Soon after, Tottenham managed to get a shot on target. Simon Davies received the ball just inside his own half, and released Matty down the left flank, whose cross was met powerfully by recent signing Postiga. The header was strong & downward but unfortunately straight at the keeper. Most of Tottenham's rather few attacks started with Toda feeding Matty down the left flank.

On the half hour mark, the Pirates number 5 flashed over the bar for the umpteenth time. A minute later Gus challenged for the ball and released Matty once again down the flank. Unfortunately once again the cross from the number 11 was poor, drifting too close to the keeper who duly snatched it from the air. After 32 minutes Spurs had their first corner of the afternoon. Not sure who took the corner but it was sent hard and low to the edge of the box (reminiscent of the old Sheringham routine). In this case Redknapp tried to make something of it, but the corner was not met and Spurs were quickly caught on the break. It looked menacing , but Spurs were saved after the lanky Gardner tracked back some 40 yards to make a superb tackle and end the Pirates break.

The rest of the half involved a few exchanges with both teams getting chances, a free-kick on 40 minutes forced a good punch out from Burch, who had a solid game, including a good save after a free-kick resulted from a needless shirt tugging by Gardner.

The 2nd half saw no changes to the Spurs line-up, which was disappointing as they had not looked very comfortable in the 1st half. Jamie was playing far too deep for my money, and was not controlling the midfield effectively as a result. Postiga was playing alone upfront and was regularly being felled, legally I might add, by the resolute Pirates back-line (including one Mbulelo Mabizela !!). I feel Postiga will need to toughen up in the Premiership if he is to succeed. He seems all to eager to fall-over after a challenge, and a strong defender will keep him under wraps easily if he is not prepared to scrap a little. I should give him the benefit of the doubt though, as this was my first view of him in action. Perhaps he was just making sure he did not injure himself.

A Spurs free-kick 8 minutes into the 2nd half saw the ball sail agonisingly across the 6-yard box with neither Perry nor Redknapp able to get head onto it. Good distribution saw Postiga with a chance on the edge of the box. His shot was weakly struck and again Pirates were able to break quickly up the right flank. A mis-hit shot by the Pirates right winger was a mercy to the rapidly retreating Spurs defence. This marked a period of sustained pressure by Pirates, which would ultimately culminate in a reward in the form of a goal. Pirates had 3 corners within a minute, with Chris Perry mostly taking care of the clearances. Pirates got a free-kick on 65 minutes and brought on the influential midfielder, Steve Lekoelea. The free-kick was wasted and Spurs opted to replace Gus with Robbie Keane (much to the delight of the Spurs supporters scattered around the ground). A few minutes later Toda hit a strong volley from the edge of the area, which almost went thru the keeper's legs. A minute later Spurs were going forward again, with some neat exchanges between Simon and Jamie however once again today the final ball just wouldn't come.

On 70 mins, Gardner made a mistake again which the reliable Perry cleaned up. Minutes later Spurs conceded a free-kick 10 meters out from the Spurs 18 yard box. Pirates stalwart Lekoelea stepped up and curled a fierce shot past Burch. 1 - 0 to the Bucs. Of course this seemed to galvanise the Spurs into some sort of action, and they were duly on even terms, albeit rather fortunately, a minute later. A good run by the lively Keane put Postiga thru, who, I must admit, did well to beat 2 defenders and get a shot in . It was across the goal, though, but it did force the Pirates defender, Musasa to stab the ball past his own keeper. 1 -1. Though Tottenham now appeared to have woken up they still were not fluent, and our disappointing day was summed up by Steven Carr's handball 5 minutes from time. The ref had no hesitation and the Pirates star, Manyathala made no mistake from the spot. At this point the Pirates fans started to chant. There is a buzz at South African matches generally but it raised a few bars after this goal as they could sense a famous victory. South African football fans have almost a fetish it seems, for blowing on these bugle-type horns that make for a constant drone around the ground.

This drone increased steadily with the 2nd goal going in ! Glenn brought on David Galbraith with 5 mins to go, replacing Tarrico, but it was too little too late.. Galbraith did however, supply a cross from the left in injury time, which was met by the towering Gardner. He somehow contrived to get under it though and sent it sailing over the bar.. Soon after the referee blew the final whistle to end a very lacklustre and sluggish performance by the Spurs.

Hoddle would later bemoan the length of the grass on the pitch. I think he had good reason, as we all thought the play looked very sluggish and certainly not fluid from a Spurs perspective. Pirates, of course, played on the same pitch but it's possible they are a little more used to this type of pitch having played on rugby pitches on more than one occasion before. Be that as it may, the scattered Spurs contingent slowly made their way out of the stadium hoping that Cape Town would see an improvement in the overall team performance.

(Copyright of this compilation is claimed by Ralph Hohls)

Read the full preview for this mini-tour of South Africa

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