We are ready to challenge for Premier League promotion!
This was Mthatha Bucks coach Ian Palmer’s reaction to his charges’ emphatic 2-0 win against Limpopo NFD side Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila FC yesterday.
It was Bucks’ first home game this season, and followed a 1-1 stalemate against University of Pretoria in the season opener.
And it was a one-man party for the home side as new revelation Mpho Erasmus netted a brace for Bucks, bringing his tally to three in two matches after he scored against AmaTuks.
Not only did Erasmus, who arrived at the Mthatha outfit this season from ABC Motsepe League side Zizwe United, score a brace, but his second was banged home with a spectacular bicycle kick five minutes before the interval.
His individual brilliance was not unexpected, as Erasmus scored 44 goals for Zizwe last season and guided them to the NFD play-offs.
Palmer sang the praises of Erasmus, who is emerging as Bucks’ weapon of mass destruction for the 2017-18 NFD season.
“Erasmus scored 44 goals alone in the Motsepe League last season; he is a seasoned professional and a good player to have on board because there are always goals guaranteed with him around,” said Palmer. “A team like Mthatha Bucks deserves to be in the PSL and we are ready to fight for it.”
Palmer is confident that Erasmus is going to be a player to watch in the second tier this season. The only things that could stop the red hot striker, said Palmer, were suspensions and injuries.
The match, in front of a capacity crowd of Bucks’ loyal supporters, could have easily been wrapped up with a 4-0 lead in the first half as the helpless visitors struggled to deal with the home side’s attack.
However, Erasmus and his partner in front, Zambian international Chileshe Kwangwa, had at least two missed opportunities each.
But Palmer was pleased with the 2-0 victory nonetheless, although the same cannot be said about the losing side’s coach, Sello Chokoe who was disappointed by his side’s first-half showing.
Said Chokoe: “In the first half we did not hold the ball and we allowed too many incoming crosses from the home side, and we were punished for that.
“Our defence was flat-footed and, knowing a player like Mpho Erasmus and the danger that he poses, we should have done better, but we are learning.”
Indeed it was in the 23rd minute that Erasmus headed home the opener, thanks to a beautiful cross from Pentjie Zulu. Erasmus was to return with the bicycle kick, a contender for goal of the season, in the 40th minute, taking full advantage of the visiting side’s poor clearance following a cross delivery from the right flank.
The second half became a balanced affair with a slight dominance in possession by the visitors, who came back from the break a much-improved side.
But despite their ball- possession superiority, they could not break the rock-solid Bucks defence.
The hosts had a few clear-cut opportunities to increase their tally, in particular Kwangwa, who was too casual on two occasions with only the visitors’ goalkeeper in front of him.
Bucks attacking midfielders Sihle Mbhele, Linda Bhengu and Zulu had their own chances to score, with Erasmus having been replaced on the one-hour mark, perhaps to save him from unnecessary injuries. — zingisam @dispatch.co.za