Mark Gleeson

Chiefs blow hot and cold

2011-09-12 08:05
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

How quickly the pendulum swings from one direction to the other.

Last season Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates met five times and the superiority of the AmaKhosi was overwhelming. Pirates might have gone onto take the league and another two cup trophies but they did not impose themselves their arch rivals.

Indeed, the Buccaneers were a bundle of nerves and played a suicidal game in November last year which Chiefs won easily 3-1. They followed that three weeks later with a 3-0 thrashing in the Telkom Knockout final, with again sizeable errors to blame as Pirates meekly folded and the AmaKhosi enjoyed the ascendency.

Even the last derby in February saw Pirates pull out a miracle goal at the end to draw the game but even then the morale high ground was with Chiefs.

But there was no evidence of any that swagger this past Saturday night in the MTN8 final. It has been a long time since Pirates so dominated a derby and in which Chiefs barely got a shot it at their rival’s goal from inside the penalty area.

Vladimir Vermezovic was right when he suggested a subdued performance from his team was as the result of limp showing from some of his star players. That is why he jerked off Siphiwe Tshabalala long before full time. The dreadlocked left winger might have had some memorable nights at Soccer City, but this was not one of them.

Josta Dladla might have four goals in four games but he didn’t even get into a goal scoring position. And the returning Reneilwe Letsholonyane was chasing shadows.

But for all their midfield dominance, Pirates were not exactly sharp in attack either. Once Bongani Ndulula came on they looked much more dangerous but in the end the winning goal was a speculative drive from long range assisted by some poor goalkeeping.

Up to then, Itumeleng Khune had mostly to deal with set pieces rather than chances from open play. Most fans seemed disappointed with the standard of the game but failed to acknowledge the tight defending and the persistent pressing. The fitness of both teams must be admired.

Mostly there is little to choose between the two squads. Often it cane be a confidence game.

And so when they return again on Saturday for their league meeting, it is Pirates who are likely to have an edge. There is also the mystery component of Benni McCarthy, if he doesn’t get sent off on Wednesday night, to consider. He will sew further doubt in Chiefs’ minds.

It all leads me to ponder whether this season might not then be one of dominance for Pirates in the derbies … and Chiefs win the league?

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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