The Star Early Edition
Crowd, coaches disappointed as Chiefs, Downs cancel each other out
THE obvious dissatisfaction with the officiating – which both coaches tried to hide – in Saturday night’s clash between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns almost threatened to reduced their goalless draw to a mere sideshow.
However, the truth is that what was supposed to be a thrilling encounter and a direct confrontation between two Absa Premiership title contenders not only left the crowd a little disappointed, but Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela and his Downs counterpart Pitso Mosimane both felt it was an opportunity wasted.
Chiefs media officer Vina Maphosa, in welcoming the coaches to the auditorium for post-match interviews, wanted everyone to believe the “fans got their money’s worth”. Far from it, so much so that Komphela’s opening remarks were about his frustration over his side’s failure to move up the league table.
“I think when one looks at the log and the number of matches drawn, you would feel hard done by. Just too many draws for us, and you can’t forget that because of the match we have just played,” the Amakhosi coach said. He was right.
A win would have cut the lead Sundowns have on the Glamour Boys to just two points, with plenty of football still to be played as Chiefs look to retain the PSL title. Instead they earned a single point and left things as they were prior to kick-off, except maybe the fact that Mpumalanga Black Aces – very much under the radar – equalled the 27 points Sundowns have amassed from 13 games by beating Polokwane City in Nelspruit.
“When you do arithmetic, you would say from 13 games we calculated two points a match. Right now we are on 22 points, which means were are four points behind where we are supposed to be. And sometime ago we did some reflection and looked back to the games we played and goalkeepers won Man of the Match awards. It’s quite a few,” Komphela said.
“It means were are doing things right, but just need composure to put the ball in the back of the net and win games.” A man who perhaps needs composure in the upcoming games, and there’s plenty lined up in the coming weeks, is Mosimane, whose side remained top of the log on Saturday night.
“The fact that we didn’t score a goal leaves a bitter after taste in my mouth because we have showed in previous matches that we have a goal in us every time we play,” the 2013 league-winner said. “But we played a big team, so we understand. If you want to talk statistics you will say we haven’t lost (the Brazilians are unbeaten in 13 matches in all competitions). You take what you can, and if it means a point, away from home, then we accept it and won’t be greedy and cocky.”
A share of the spoils was maybe a fair result given both teams had an equal opportunity to win it – George Maluleka missing a glorious chance with only Downs keeper Denis Onyango to beat, and Tebogo Langerman’s shot coming off the upright in the 85th minute with Chiefs goal minder Reyaad Pieterse beaten.
The one highlight was the Man of the Match award. It wasn’t the goalkeepers, despite the clean sheets, but young Amakhosi centre-back Lorenzo Gordinho, who picked up his second successive accolade against strong opposition. The 21-year-old was also voted the outstanding performer when Chiefs beat Wits 2-1 in the club’s final game of 2015.
“It’s important for him to keep his feet on the ground. Humility breeds success and we preach that on a daily basis,” said Komphela, who went as far as comparing Gordinho to Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane. “Madrid never considered his age, but looked at the talent the boy had. It’s not about the coach being brave, but the talent and it is only through matches that he can grow and could be an asset.”