Johannesburg - The new Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has a lot on her plate already. But there could even be more if supporters of Pirates and Chiefs complained to her office about too many Soweto derby draws. She would have to investigate this and make recommendations as to why the two teams always settle for draws when playing each other, particularly in league matches.
Whereas cup competitions are guaranteed a winner, league matches always produce below-par performances. It was yet another uninspiring, goalless draw, which left many asking whether the scoreboard was working during Soweto derby matches. Surprisingly, the scoreboard is always active during other matches here.
Although the two sides gave their all, particularly in the second half, nothing could separate them after 90 minutes. A draw was a true reflection of the proceedings as no team did enough to warrant the three points. They will have to come up with plans to unlock each other in their next clash next year. Both teams had opportunities to snatch the victory late in the game, but failed to take them.
Pirates felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Bernard Morrison went down inside the box, only for referee Victor Gomes to gesture to play on.
Then Chiefs had a chance of their own, but Edward Manqele’s effort was saved for a corner with what would have been the winner.
After a lacklustre first half, the two teams came back strongly in the second half and this made for an interesting duel as they both searched for the goal.
The two coaches, Muhsin Ertugral and Steve Komphela, must have had harsh words for the players, because they stepped up their game when they returned from the break.
Overall, it was an open game that was characterised by poor decision-making and wayward passes from both sides. Some players seemed to have been overawed by the big occasion, leaving their A-game at home or in the dressing room.
But for newcomers Keagan Buchanan and Riyaad Norodien, it was a good performance on the big stage. They gave as much as they could and deserve a special mention.
Pirates suffered a blow before the start of the game when Luvuyo Memela pulled out of the starting line-up after feeling dizzy during the warm-up. But, interestingly, his replacement, Norodien, was the best player on the field in the opening stanza. He was clearly sending a message to his coach that he deserved a starting berth in coming fixtures.
As expected, the two sides were casual in their approach as they waited to see who would throw the first punch. While Chiefs were comfortable on the ball and dominated ball possession early on, they lacked penetration as their game centered in the middle of the park.
After absorbing the early pressure, Pirates took control of the game and should have gone ahead in the 23rd minute, only for Thabo Rakhale to waste a glorious opportunity. That said, credit should go to keeper Itumeleng Khune, who read the situation quickly as he stepped out of his line to block the chance.
The fact that the first corner of the game only came in the 35th minute says everything about the attack of the two teams. The second corner was conceded in optional time and both went begging.
But a half-time talk from both coaches changed the complexion of the game and the corner kick tally at the end of the game bore testimony to that.
After this draw, Mkhwebane should brace herself for an influx of requests to investigate this failure to produce goals, and she ought to oblige.