First half - Pirates possession, Chiefs position
In football, there are generally two ways to control matches – by keeping the ball (Possession) and by controlling space (Position). These two sides took completely different tactical approaches in this match. Orlando Pirates immediately looked to play their usual style of play by building up from the back, in an attempt to invite opponents to close them down, then looking to play forward, leaving several opponents eliminated from the game. Kaizer Chiefs, on the other hand, lost their third derby in a row having tried very different tactics in each game and still coming up short. In the match four weeks ago, they used the same 4-4-2 formation as in this match, but pressed high up with five players closing down Bucs’ build-up. In this game, with two defensive midfielders used and Siphelele Ntshangase not even on the bench, Chiefs instead dropped off Pirates completely, setting up in a deep block with even Khama Billiat positioned around the halfway line.
Chiefs’ plan was to allow the Bucs centre-backs Marshall Munetsi and Happy Jele, to have lots of the ball, but not many open forward options to pass to. In the early part of the game, this worked quite well as Xola Mlambo and Musa Nyatama were struggling to find space with Willard Katsande and George Maluleka in close attendance, but also Leonardo Castro and Khama Billiat dropping deep to close down the Pirates midfield. When Chiefs did win the ball, they looked to attack quickly on the break against a slow Pirates defence, but Amakhosi had too much ground to make up and not enough pace of their own to hurt Pirates. Whereas in the game four weeks ago, Billiat was constantly running off the back of Happy Jele in the early stages, here he was instead picking up the ball 30-40 yards from goal, and was still barely involved in the game.
Pirates strike, Chiefs respond
The best way for Pirates to force Chiefs to play a different style was to take the lead and make Giovanni Solinas push his team higher up the pitch. Whilst Bucs did score first, their lead last only four minutes, so Chiefs had no reason to play any more progressively. Bucs’ goal came from a counter-attack as Jackson Mabokgwane, a surprise selection ahead of Siyabonga Mpontshane, picked out Vincent Pule with an accurate long kick. This selection in goal must surely have been down to Mabokgwane’s superior ball-playing ability, because he is lacking in other aspects of goalkeeping in comparison to Mpontshane and Pirates were almost made to pay on a few occasions for his lack of authority when facing crosses and high balls.
Nevertheless, the goalkeeper’s long kick found Pule, as Mario Booysen made a bad error in missing his attempted control when a safety-first clearance was actually needed. Pule then provided a superb assist with the outside of his left foot as he curled a low cross into the box. Lorch had escaped Ramahlwe Mphahlele’s attention and finished brilliantly.
Chiefs did level soon after. Billiat, who had started in the middle, had gone over to the left flank (with the returning Lebogang Manyama swapping roles with him) and assisted the goal for Castro, who was looking much more dangerous after two full weeks of training to get fit during the FIFA break. As with Booysen’s error, Jele tried to be too clever and when the heavy playing surface slowed the ball down, Castro got in front of Mabokgwane to score. Jele simply had to clear his lines that close to goal. However, the fact that Pirates have to defend so deep is due to Jele’s lack of speed in the first place.
Micho’s midfield shuffle
After starting the game with Pule on the left flank and Lorch on the right, Micho soon swapped the two players. Chiefs started with decent control of Pirates’ central midfielders, but a key change by the Buccaneers’ technical staff solved this problem. Nyatama, back in the side after an injury to Ben Motshwari, moved out of the middle and towards the left back position, giving actual left back Innocent Maela more cover to push forward, and therefore allow Lorch to move inside. On the other flank, Mlambo also looked to move slightly wider. The point of these moves was to try to open up a gap in Chiefs’ midfield if Katsande or Maluleka followed their direct opponents out of the centre. With Pule and Lorch able to cut in, and Kutumela playing close enough to Justin Shonga to pull Siyabonga Ngezana out of the backline at times, Pirates had suddenly opened up space in front of Chiefs’ back four. This did not yield that many obvious opportunities, but Pirates were able to get at the Amakhosi backline more often, whilst also tiring out Chiefs midfield, who had to constantly shift from side to side. These changes also caused problems for the Amakhosi fullbacks who often found themselves outnumbered against Pirates’ wide forays. Despite Bucs getting into good areas using this tweak, they did not create many good chances and lacked some ideas how to break down Chiefs having 10 men behind the ball at times.
Musa Nyatama touch map: Mins 0-32: Nyatama builds play from left back area to allow Maela to push forward.