Festive bragging rights dololo! The fixture that brings Mzansi to a stand still, divides marriages, families, friends and the public at their workplace wrapped up with a disappointing goal-less draw!
The one game where form counts for nothing; a fixture where players with BMT (big match temperament) shine, and make names for themselves did not live up to the expectations.
Kaizer Chiefs came into the game second placed on the log standings after 6 games played, 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 game lost with 13 points on the log. They drew zero all in the TKO Cup with Maritzburg United and eventually won on penalties in their last game. They have kept 5 clean sheets consecutively in all competitions.
The buccaneers were very convincing in their last outing, beating Golden Arrows 2-1 in the Telkom Cup. They were enterprising and exciting on the day. Coming to derby, I was very confident that if the Pirates that beat Arrows turned up against Amakhosi, Chiefs were in trouble. My key players coming to the derby were Brighton, Jele, Makola, Memela and Ndoro.
Before the game started, there were disappointing reports that Captain Manyisa, Mhlongo and Memela had stomach bugs which I thought disrupted the coaches plans coming to the game. It meant Ace was out, and in his place, Mothupa would replace him at midfield. Memela warmed up but failed a late fitness test on the day and was replaced Nooriden. Mhlongo passed a late fitness test and soldiered on.
Looking at how they fared, Mhlongo was brilliant in goals given that he was not 100% fit for the game. When he was called upon, I thought he took charge of his area and did well to save 3 shots Chiefs had on target.His communication with his defense was impeccable, and his distribution was on point.The defense led by Magents (Jele) who was captain in his 20th derby in the absence of Ace was resolute. There was one change from the last game at right back where a more composed Nyauza came in for Sikhakhane who sat this one out. Nyauza kept Lebese quite, and he did not just do that, he was involved when Pirates were on the offensive too. As a group, they played well and I thought the defense was the best department on the day. Gyimah is a warrior, and he made 2 crucial match saving tackles and put his body on the line for the team hence, he was man of the match on the day. Matlaba is improving in terms of when to defend, and when to join the attack. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great player with lots energy and a great work-rate.
In midfield I thought Pirates missed their captains presence, calmness on the ball, and his ability to dictate the pace and tempo of the game. On the left, Memela was out and the team missed his crosses, pace, work-rate and his ability to create scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
Sarr worked tirelessly in midfield to neutralize Amakhosi and to protect the back four. In the absence of Manyisa, I expected Makola to step up and take charge of the midfield offensively, but he was disappointing on the day. Consistence is one thing he has to work on because one week he is brilliant, then the next game he gives you an average performance as he did in this game. I thought Nooriden was lively especially in the first half. He was quick, tricky and caused headaches for Ramahlwe but got tired in the second half. Mothupa was partnered with Sarr in midfield. He tried, but he needs to learn fast that when a big team like Pirates give a him a chance, he needs to grab it with both hands and I thought he didn’t. Rakhale is off form for me. He had a great chance in the first half when Nooriden put him through one on one with Khune but his first touch let him down. I thought that was the best chance of the half for Pirates. Rakhale needs to go back to the basics which made him a crowd favourite, which was using his skill to go defend. He was using his pace, he was creating scoring chances for strikers and himself. But these days, he just does tricks then passes backwards or sideways. Bernard Morris came on and brought some excitement to the game. His skill and silk foot movement saw him being brought down in the penalty area which I thought was a good penalty but the referee didn’t give it.
Tendai Ndoro, by his standards, I thought he had an okay game. He made a lovely run behind the Chiefs defense to create a chance for Gift Mothupa which Gift missed. Ndoro asked for the ball a lot to feet which is not his strength and the slow Chiefs defense were happy to let him have it there because he was not hurting them as long as he was in front on them and facing his own goals. I felt if he asked for the ball more behind the defense of the opponents, he would have had one goal himself. Because of the heat at FNB, I felt the Chiefs defense was going to tire if he kept them busy and by doing that, he would have created a lot more scoring chances for himself and the team.Overall, it was a game of missed passes, wrong decisions in the final third of the pitch and miss-calculated passes in the final third. On transition, I thought both teams were poor because big games like these are usually won on mistakes made by the opposition. When each won the ball back, I thought the other team didn’t use it wisely hence the draw.
I thought coach Muhsin Ertuğral could be the happier of the 2 coach because the game plan he worked on the whole week was disrupted the evening before the derby when his 3 key players fell ill with the stomach bug. Another goal-less draw, the supporters can’t be happy with that result after braving the heat in support of their favourite teams.