The honourable chairman and his management team have delivered!! The sea robbers have a new head coach, the beginning of a new era. Coach Kjell Jonevret, welcome to the Ghost family, the home of the Sea Robbers. Stabilize the ship, and let us cruise again. It is now important for the supporters to go and support the team, and for the players to deliver on the pitch. As for our new head Kjell Jonevret, he needs a bit of time to get the players familiar with his philosophy, methods, style of play and tactics. We must also welcome our new assistant coach Herold “Jazzy Queen” Legodi. He needs no introduction, we know what he did as a player at Sundowns, and the type of players he produced as a coach; Just to mention one, our very own captain, Oupa Manyisa.
Back to the fixture, it was a 10th placed Orlando Pirates on 20 points, after 17 games at home against a 6th placed Polokwane City on 24 points after 18 games.
We were all waiting to see who Kjell selects in his first starting eleven. He obviously doesn’t know the players that’s well, so we can only assume that he relied on the technical team (Benson Mhlongo, Rowen Frenandes and Jazzy Queen) to confirm his starting team.
Looking at the line-up, in goals, he continued with Brighton Mhlongo; whom, during the slippery afternoon at Orlando stadium, I thought did well, he had good positioning, handling and he commanded his area well.
In defense, he did not make much changes in his selection of Happy Jele and Ayanda Gcaba, who continued their pairing at center back. Thabo Matlaba was not in the line-up or on the bench, so it gave an opportunity to Patrick Phungwayo who held left back and Nyauza who was holding it down at right back. Coach Kjell said in his first media briefing that his approach is to shut the back door first, make sure the team is solid at the back. I could see the discipline in defense at the back, good communication, and a sense of responsibility from the players. Jele was outstanding, and I thought Phungwayo took calculated forays forward and he was solid at the back besides lacking on match fitness. Nyauza defended well, but at times he had two players coming at him because the team played with a half winger on the right. The team did not have an out and out winger on the right.
In midfield, we saw the return of Bafana Bafana international Mpho Makola, who was interchanging in the half wing role withDove Wome. Wome started in the number 10 role, which I think is his best position. Abbubaker Mobara partnered with Oupa ‘Ace’ Manyisa at central midfield; I love this combo. They started play and circulated the ball well; they kept the defensive lines well. Memela was not consistent. He drifted in and out of the game and at times, he was found wanting when he switched to the right wing. Mpho Makola made a school boy error; loosing the ball at central midfield after Phungwayo had pushed up to receive; leaving the defense stretched and exposed. Sipho Jembula used his pace on the counter and laid it on the plate for Rodney Ramagalela to score the opener. Makola will learn from this mistake and next time, he should not find himself dropping so deep to collect the ball when he has Mobara and Manyisa to do that for him. Riyaad Nooriden came in for Memela. I was surprised that he still did not start the game. Nooriden brought life and lots of energy when he came on. He nearly won it for the Buccaneers in the dying minutes of the game, however, was unlucky when his shot came off the woodwork. If it were up to me, I would start this young man (Nooriden) at the derby match. A start in the Derby would be a great reward for Nooriden’ s fine performance in the last 2 games.
Upfront, we saw the return of King goals into the starting line, I am talking about Tendai Ndoro. He needs to start scoring again because he last scored on the 3rd of December 2016. In this fixture, he was paired with the former Togolese striker in Dove Wome who opened his Pirates account with a goal in the last game versus CT City. He came into the game with full confidence. His runs, first touches and movements must have impressed Coach Kjell. He is now settled, scoring in 2 consecutive games. Wome’s goal was well taken, a good first touch, composure, and he picked his spot well. Good work from Ndoro who drifted wide to find space to receive, which created space for Wome in the box. Ndoro was later substituted by Gabuza who worked hard, but needs to use his energy well to create chances for himself .Overall, a good commitment and application from Gabuza.
Generally, a good start by coach Kjell. I am certain that he knows there is still a lot of work to be done. Kjell would be happy with the start to his Buccaneers career because there was a lot of commitment from the players, tactical discipline, and the freedom which the offensive players played with. They will come up against their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the next game and if coach Kjell can win that one, he would have the hearts of the Buccaneers, and buy himself time with them. He has a difficult decision, does he bring back Matlaba or leave the defense unchanged? Good start coach!