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
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’
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.
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