ANOTHER DERBY, ANOTHER DRAW
Both sides desperately needed a win yesterday – Chiefs to challenge for the title and Bucs to stay clear of relegation. A well-fought stalemate was the result
Two points lost is the best way to describe this encounter. The single one gained by either team is not likely to ease the pressure on the coaches. The fact that Pirates and Chiefs have both now surrendered five points in two matches is a measure of their level of performance this season.
Soweto giants Pirates and Chiefs came to this encounter on the back of defeats to Jomo Cosmos and Platinum Stars, respectively.
They each needed the three points for different reasons – but it was not to be after admittedly good showings yesterday.
With both coaches – the Bucs’ Eric Tinkler and Amakhosi’s Steve Komphela – coming into this game under pressure to get a result, a draw was the last thing they would have signed for at the start.
Neither team took their chances, especially the hosts, Bucs, who dominated the game in the second half.
Chiefs were strong in the first half, in which they scored their goal through man of the match Willard Katsande, but then it was the Buccaneers’ show all the way. Pirates should and could have taken all the points on offer but had to settle for a draw after a Thamsanqa Gabuza header levelled matters.
Chiefs suffered a setback after goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was stretchered off in the 68th minute, immediately after conceding the goal.
Khune was making his return to the side after being sidelined with a knee injury since November.
Pirates will feel hard done by following their secondhalf performance. Tinkler would have been far happier with the team that showed up for the final stanza, while Komphela still has a lot of work to do with his strike force, as Camaldine Abraw was again not lethal enough in front of goal.
The pitch was in a magnificent state, looking ready for entertaining football, and the teams did not disappoint, starting on a high.
It was a perfect day, as the weather was clear, with no chance of rain. A near-capacity crowd hoping for a flood of goals had to content themselves with the two they got.
History always counts for nothing when it comes to the Soweto derby, and the fact that both sides lost their previous encounters before this game mattered even less. Far more than the bragging rights were at stake this time. Chiefs needed to win to apply pressure on the leading pack of particularly Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits, while Pirates needed to move away from the relegation zone.
What the coaches had told their troops was evident at the start – go and fight for the win.
Pirates were the first to make their intentions clear, as they forced two quick corners in the opening minutes. They were unlucky not to be ahead in the 24th after Issa Sarr’s goal was disallowed by referee Phillip Tinyani. This after Thabo Qalinge had taken the free kick before the whistle and found himself cautioned.
Chiefs struck a few minutes later when Zimbabwean international Katsande, unmarked at the back post, slotted home from a Siphiwe Tshabalala corner kick.
Gabuza, who had scored here in the first round, capitalised on some defensive frailties in Chiefs’ rearguard to force the draw.
Both coaches will probably feel a draw was a fair result, although that won’t relieve any of the pressure they’re under.
BLACK AND GOLD
Kaizer Chiefs’ William Twala and Orlando Pirates’ Thabo Matlaba at FNB Stadium yesterday afternoon