NO GOALS, BUT LOTS OF DRAMA

It was a dis­ap­point­ing game be­tween Downs and Bucs, marred by scuf­fles off the pitch

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE at Lof­tus Vers­feld Sta­dium daniel.mothowagae@city­press.co.za

It re­mains to be seen how the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL) will re­act to the nasty offthe-pitch events that over­shad­owed the epic Absa Pre­mier­ship clash be­tween Mamelodi Sun­downs and Or­lando Pi­rates yes­ter­day.

What could have po­ten­tially been a show of free-flowing and en­ter­tain­ing foot­ball by ar­guably the Pre­mier­ship’s most tac­ti­cally and tech­ni­cally as­tute sides turned into a dis­play of scuf­fles.

The push­ing and shov­ing started the mo­ment the Pi­rates play­ers alighted from their team bus a few hours be­fore kick-off.

Sun­downs coach Pitso Mosi­mane told the me­dia at the post-match con­fer­ence that the com­mo­tion was cre­ated by the Buccaneers us­ing his park­ing.

“I found them parked in my space and I had to walk all the way from out­side… I blame our se­cu­rity,” said Mosi­mane.

It did not end there, as mid­way into the open­ing half a hot-headed fan dressed in Sun­downs re­galia ac­costed Pi­rates as­sis­tant coach Ru­lani Mok­wena, who is a for­mer mem­ber of the Sun­downs tech­ni­cal team.

Play was sus­pended when all hell broke loose be­tween the two op­pos­ing benches and se­cu­rity per­son­nel had their hands full try­ing to sep­a­rate the two camps to­wards the half-time break. This led to an ad­di­tional nine min­utes be­ing played at the end of the first half.

Prior to the melee, the dis­play on the pitch by the two sides was filled with prom­ise.

There was an early ex­change of fire­power, with Sun­downs be­ing the first to test the wa­ters through Jeremy Brockie who, with a trade­mark vol­ley, saw his ef­fort sail­ing wide af­ter the New Zealan­der had con­nected a crisp pass from Andile Jali.

The in-form Jali was car­ried out on a stretcher with a ham­string in­jury 10 min­utes into the game and re­placed by Tiyani Mabunda.

“Jali al­ways gives us box-to-box [per­for­mances],” said Mosi­mane, adding that he was wor­ried the player could be out for up to four weeks.

“We are dis­ap­pointed in the draw be­cause this was our home game. We played well against a team that al­ways dom­i­nates ev­ery­where – we did not want to al­low that.

“We looked af­ter their im­por­tant play­ers, Xola Mlambo and Ben Motshwari, who we forced into kick­ing long balls.”

Mosi­mane also made note of the Bucs at­tack which was pow­ered by the pace of Vin­cent Pule, Them­binkosi Lorch and Justin Shonga, with Thabiso Ku­tumela al­ways mak­ing timely runs emerg­ing from the cen­tre.

In con­trast, the Pi­rates back­line had lit­tle to do, with Brockie al­ready in their back pocket, but they were later put on their toes by Phaka­mani Mahlambi, who Mosi­mane unleashed on the hour mark.

The for­mer Al Ahly striker made an im­me­di­ate im­pact as Bucs goal­keeper Siyabonga Mpontshane had to turn his shot around the post for a cor­ner, with his first touch a few sec­onds af­ter he had re­placed Brockie.

Not to be out­done by his equally tac­ti­cally as­tute coun­ter­part, Bucs coach Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vić coun­tered with the in­tro­duc­tion of Au­gus­tine Mu­lenga for the tir­ing Ku­tumela.

Sre­do­je­vić said tac­tics won on the day, even though he reg­is­tered his dis­ap­point­ment with the scuf­fles.

“This is not a ges­ture of the big clubs. I’d rather talk about the events on the field,” said the Serb.

He added: “Ev­ery­thing was there for the big game, ex­cept the ball didn’t go into the net.

“I be­lieve we played coura­geously. It was a match of press­ing traps.”

Sre­do­je­vić also shrugged off sug­ges­tions that Mok­wena was over­rul­ing him on the bench.

“I am to­tally in charge.”

The clos­ing stages gave the ca­pac­ity crowd – with Bafana Bafana coach Stu­art Baxter also in at­ten­dance – the op­por­tu­nity to wit­ness a nerve-wrack­ing fi­nale, but the two pow­er­houses re­fused to give in un­der pressure.

In the end, a point apiece was worth the shift put on by the two for­mer African club cham­pi­ons, even though Thapelo Morena could have won it for Sun­downs had the full-back not been in­de­ci­sive in­side the penalty box.

A Pi­rates win would not only have extended the Buccaneers’ lead at the top, but the re­sult could have given a bril­liant send-off to the leg­endary Os­car “Jazzman” Dlamini, who passed away this week.

Dlamini, who was part of the all­con­quer­ing Bucs team of 1973, was buried yes­ter­day.

Pi­rates will now face Soweto ri­vals Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom Knock­out semi­fi­nals in Dur­ban on November 24, be­fore Sre­do­je­vić’s side meet the Sey­chelles out­fit Light Stars FC in their open­ing CAF Cham­pi­ons League fix­ture a few days later.

Sim­i­larly, Sun­downs – who re­main the only un­beaten side in the pre­mier­ship so far – will also be com­pet­ing in the premier con­ti­nen­tal club com­pe­ti­tion.

The Brazil­ians have been drawn against Leones Vege­tar­i­anos of Equa­to­rial Guinea.

OTHER RESULTS:

Kaizer Chief 0-0 Chippa United

Golden Ar­rows 1-2 Baroka FC

Mar­itzburg United 2-2 High­lands Park

Bid­vest Wits 1-2 Bloem Celtic

FS Stars 0-1 Su­perS­port United ● Visit city-press.news24.com for more sto­ries, in­clud­ing South African clubs in CAF com­pe­ti­tions and the lat­est on the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge

PHOTO: PHILL MAGAKOE / GALLO IM­AGES

HEADS UP Mamelodi Sun­downs mid­fielder Gastón Sirino pushes Or­lando Pi­rates de­fender Happy Jele as he eyes the ball dur­ing the Absa Pre­mier­ship match played at Lof­tus Vers­feld Sta­dium in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day

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