Chiefs hold the aces
The fact that the Soweto derby was beamed around the world to millions of viewers is testament to the progress South African football has made. Having said that, the game failed to live up to its pre-match hype.
The passing was poor and the turnover of possession was far too frequent. As a spectacle, I felt the game improved slightly in the second half but neither side took the game by the scruff of the neck and the midfields seemed to cancel each other out.
It was a frustrating day for the strikers. You simply cannot get enough support to the front men when you can’t keep possession for long periods. Pre-game, I was sure Chiefs would score but the fact that Senzo Meyiwa was named man of the match tells a story in itself.
I believe we would have seen a more open, free-flowing game had both sides gone into the clash needing a win.
Chiefs employed a defensive game plan by playing with five defenders at the back, while Pirates lacked any real thrust on attack, cautious of Chiefs breaking on the counter.
Tlou Segolela’s introduction to the game offered Pirates more adventure and his pace troubled Chiefs’ defence. He was very unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty in the 75th minute. It was a clear-cut foul with Siphiwe Tshabalala having clipped his legs.
I felt it was very harsh that the player was then booked for diving. That surely has to be reviewed. With all the television footage now at our disposal, I believe the league should bring in someone like Ian McLeod to analyse footage during the match to justify bookings.
While football is a more free-flowing game than rugby or cricket and purists warn against embracing technology, in my view any advancements that support the correct decisions being made are most welcome.
With Chiefs still five points ahead of Pirates on the PSL table, I believe it remains Chiefs’ title to lose.
The fact that Pirates continue their travels into Africa this weekend makes life tougher for them and bear in mind that they still have to face Sundowns, which won’t be an easy game.
Having trounced Djabal FC 9-0 on aggregate, there is no doubt the Sea Robbers will face a far sterner test against Zanaco FC of Zambia this Saturday.
Pirates will have to be even more resolute on defence. Siyabonga Sangweni took a little while to settle back into the side after injury but once he got used to the pace of the game he added stability to the Buccaneers’ backline.
Turning to the Tshwane derby, SuperSport United were rather fortuitous to come away with the three points. Gavin Hunt mentioned to me that his charges could easily have been 5-0 down at the break.
However, if your opponents are unable to take their chances, somewhere along the line they will be punished. It was a wonderful strike from Mor Diouf and even further out than David Beckham’s effort against Wimbledon.
Some may suggest goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands was at fault but I wouldn’t lay the blame at his door. He was off his line but was playing the sweeper role. If anything, Sundowns’ frontmen should be blamed for missing a hatful of chances.
SuperSport will be buoyed by their derby win but will be equally aware that travelling to Cape Town to face Vasco da Gama on Wednesday night in the Nedbank Cup won’t be easy.
For me the Sundowns/Golden Arrows clash on Friday promises to be the pick of the fixtures.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats in the league, the Brazilians are feeling the heat. In order to arrest their misfortunes in front of goal, I believe they will need to play with increased concentration and commitment.
Chiefs face Polokwane City in another intriguing Nedbank Cup clash on Saturday night. Without underestimating his rivals, I expect Stuart Baxter to rotate his squad by resting a few of his star men and offering a few fringe players some much-needed game time.
While the so called minnows don’t have the depth to rest key men, bigger sides like Chiefs have that luxury, but it remains a fine balancing act to maintain momentum.