MOD­ERN-DAY TAC­TICS sti­fle derby

As Or­lando Pi­rates host Kaizer Chiefs on Satur­day, Ti­mothy Molobi pre­views the game through the eyes of two soc­cer leg­ends who played in early Soweto der­bies

CityPress - - Sport -

When Chiefs and Pi­rates clash, it is not only Soweto that feels the heat; the na­tion feels it too as the game is fol­lowed by fans all over the coun­try. And Satur­day will be no dif­fer­ent.

For­mer Chiefs and Pi­rates de­fender Stan­ley “Screamer” Tsha­bal­ala played in the first Soweto derby on Jan­uary 24 1970 as part of the splin­ter group that broke away from Pi­rates to form Kaizer XI. He be­moans the fact that to­day’s derby has lost its spark.

Tsha­bal­ala blames the two teams’ coaches for this, say­ing that they are sti­fling play­ers.

“The game has be­come too tac­ti­cal now and this lim­its play­ers’ move­ments as they can­not freely ex­press them­selves,” says Tsha­bal­ala, who is now Pi­rates’ tech­ni­cal ad­viser.

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, who also fea­tured for the Buc­ca­neers in the early days of the derby, shared Tsha­bal­ala’s sen­ti­ments. He says the two eras are in­com­pa­ra­ble.

The for­mer Pi­rates cap­tain played in five der­bies in the 1970s and guided Pi­rates to a clean sweep of all the sil­ver­ware on of­fer in 1973.

He says it will be sui­ci­dal to com­pare the cur­rent and past play­ers’ com­mit­ment, in­volve­ment and team spirit.

“We used to play at­trac­tive foot­ball, not the dull stuff we are ex­posed to now. I don’t re­mem­ber play­ing in front of empty stands. We used to ex­press our­selves.

“De­fend­ers were ro­bust and hard-tack­ling, but cre­ative play­ers used to come up with means to over­come them. That made all the dif­fer­ence,” says Mashaba.

He says there is too much pres­sure now, which in­cludes TV cov­er­age, awards and in­cen­tives.

Tsha­bal­ala says un­like be­fore, teams now be­long to the coaches who dic­tate and con­trol the play­ers.

The game has be­come too tac­ti­cal now and this lim­its play­ers’ move­ments as they can­not ex­press them­selves freely STAN­LEY ‘SCREAMER’ TSHA­BAL­ALA

“Back then, play­ers used to dic­tate terms. To­day, the game is too tac­ti­cal, and the coaches sti­fle the play­ers and con­trol their move­ments. Play­ers are afraid of be­ing ad­ven­tur­ous.”

Go­ing down mem­ory lane, he rem­i­nisces: “We were called mara­bele [rebels] then be­cause the play­ers were from Pi­rates and that made the derby very fierce. Pi­rates sup­port­ers didn’t want to hear any­thing about Chiefs.”

Tsha­bal­ala later swapped the Chiefs jersey for a Pi­rates one.

He says the most ex­cit­ing foot­ball in the coun­try was played in the Soweto derby, but coaches use neg­a­tive tac­tics to­day.

“To­day, teams play not to lose games – they play with two de­fen­sive mid­field­ers and are more cau­tious, so there are only a few goals.

“Once one team scores, they close shop and pro­tect the lead. In those times, it was end-to-end stuff and it was free-flow­ing.”

Chiefs will go into Satur­day’s game as firm favourites after go­ing 13 games un­beaten in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son. Be­fore to­day, they had won eight games and drawn one league fix­ture.

Amakhosi have al­ready bagged the MTN8 ti­tle and play Plat­inum Stars in the Telkom KO quar­ter­fi­nal to­day.

De­spite their im­pres­sive record, Stu­art Baxter has been crit­i­cised for his de­fen­sive tac­tics and his ten­dency to close shop once Amakhosi have scored.

Vladimir “VV” Ver­mezović has also come in for se­vere crit­i­cism for his in­sis­tence on us­ing a lone striker in a sys­tem where he al­ter­nates Ker­mit Eras­mus and Lehlo­honolo Ma­joro.

Both coaches know the amount of pres­sure that comes with the derby as they are not mafik­i­zo­los (new­com­ers) to Mzansi foot­ball.

Tsha­bal­ala says form counts for naught in the derby as the un­der­dogs rise to the oc­ca­sion.

He says the fact that Pi­rates re­cently lost the MTN8 to their bit­ter ri­vals means they will be go­ing all out for re­venge.

We used to play at­trac­tive foot­ball, not the dull stuff we are ex­posed to now. I don’t re­mem­ber play­ing in front of empty stands EPHRAIM ‘SHAKES’ MASHABA

PHOTO: SUn­DAY TIMES AR­CHIVES

WIN­NER Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba is hoisted high by Or­lando Pi­rates fans after yet another vic­tory for the team in the early 1970s

PHOTO: ME­DIA24 LI­BRARY

SCREAM Stan­ley ‘Screamer’ Tsha­bal­ala was a founder mem­ber of Kaizer Chiefs

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