After the enthralling 164th edition of the Soweto derby was won by Orlando Pirates, SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN has picked out five things we learned from the clash between the Buccaneers and Kaizer Chiefs.
Goals from Innocent Maela and Vincent Pule cancelled out Khama Billiat’s opening goal as Pirates continued their dominance over their neighbours.
1) Castro wasn’t ready
Leonardo Castro had been out injured since the beginning of September with an ankle injury and despite pre-match talk that he would remain unavailable for the derby, the former Mamelodi Sundowns striker was handed a starting berth.
The Colombian clearly struggled to keep up with the intensity of the derby after almost two months out and that was evident when he wasted a golden opportunity for the Glamour Boys early on in the second half.
With Billiat and Dumisani Zuma also recovering from injuries to partner Castro in attack for the Soweto derby, perhaps Giovanni Solinas should have allowed the striker more time to recover instead of throwing him into the deep end.
2) Chiefs defensive rotation behind inconsistencies
Solinas opted for the defensive pairing of Mario Booysen and Siyabonga Ngezana, who had only played once with each other before the match and that was against Free State Stars back in September.
With Daniel Cardoso, Eric Mathoho and Teenage Hadebe all also featuring this season, perhaps Solinas would have been wise to choose a pairing with more experience and continuity of playing together to handle the unique pressure of playing in the Soweto derby.
3) Pule and the Zambian connection
Justin Shonga may have missed a first-half penalty, but his link-up play with fellow Zambian and Man of the Match Augustine Mulenga and Bafana Bafana wing Pule was something special.
Their understanding was epitomised by the winning goal as the three men combined to tear open the Chiefs defence. It was not the only time in the match that the three combined and with a more clinical edge, Pirates certainly could have added to the scoreline.
However, the understanding between the Pirates frontline will certainly please Milutin Sredojevic, whose side look well placed to mount a serious title charge.
4) Rulani was right about Chiefs, Solinas
Many believed Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena was simply conducting mind games when he stated Chiefs are tactically disorganised under Solinas and miss the tactical acumen of Steve Komphela.
His comments may have been downplayed by Sredojevic, but watching from the impeccable view from the press box at the FNB Stadium, it was evident that there is certainly a basis to his claims.
Under Komphela, Chiefs were solid, organised and difficult to break down but lacked a cutting edge going forward. This season, however, Chiefs have been fantastic going forward but are often in sixes and sevens at the back. This is clearly something that Solinas and his technical team will need to work on if they are to challenge for honours this season.
5) Pirates look primed for success
After four years of heartache and disappointment for Pirates’ faithful supporters, the side finally looks ready to reclaim the glory days.
Sredojevic often spoke about last season being a ‘healing season’ for both the players and supporters as he guided the Buccaneers to a second-place finish.
This season, however, he will not be able to use that excuse and will need to deliver the ‘perfect dish’ he so often speaks about.
With a squad that has the perfect mix of youth and experience, a technical team with coach Rulani that is up there with the best in the league, and performances to back up their beliefs, Pirates look to have all the ingredients ready to go on and enjoy one hell of a feast.
Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix