After both Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates failed to live up to the pre-match expectations on the field, the drama away from the football grabbed all the headlines. TFG SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN has picked out five things we learned from the goalless draw between the title chasers.
1) Pirates vs Sundowns becoming a PSL classic
The clash between the two South African giants is undoubtedly one of the biggest fixtures on the calendar, amd by the evidence of the action both on and off the pitch, a strong rivalry is beginning to brew between Pirates and Sunowns.
The Buccaneers and Masandawana are arguably the leagues two best footballing teams, with both teams having received plaudits for their attacking brand of football both this season and last, where Downs of course clinched their eighth PSL title, while Pirates finished five points behind in second.
The players may have struggled to live up to the billing on the pitch, but the scenes on the side-lines indicated the clear tension between these two teams who are tipped to be amongst the contenders for the league title come the business stage of the season.
— Kgomotso Sethusha (@Kgomotsso) November 10, 2018
2) Onyango’s presence vital to Downs success
Dennis Onyango has cemented his name amongst on the list of the top shot stoppers on the continent over the past few seasons and his presence has been sorely missed in recent weeks after a shoulder injury, with his replacement Reyaad Pieterse making a costly error in the cup loss to Baroka.
The Ugandan goalkeeper clearly had an impact for Downs with his presence exuding confidence on his back four which played a crucial role in keeping a clean sheet against a side which has been so good going forward all season.
3) Tactical chess match
The match saw two of the best tactical technical teams in the league come head to head and the tactical astuteness of both the Pirates and Sundowns managers were on display as both teams essentially cancelled each other out.
With the formations almost matching up, there were many one-on-one match ups all over the pitch and two of the best teams in the country could not be separated.
4) Mlambo targeted for rough treatment
Pirates midfield maestro Xola Mlambo has been instrumental in pulling the strings for the Buccaneers from the middle of the park all season and this was clearly identified by the Sundowns coaching as the midfielder came in for some rough treatment with Hlompho Kekana and Gaston Sirino in particular putting in some heft challenges, which on another day with another referee could have seen them sent off.
ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: Kekana and Sirino clear and cynical fouls on Mlambo, but ref Bennett only books Xola. This led to the touchline scuffle and rogue fan. Shocking. #StarDerby 0-0 HT @orlandopirates @michocoach pic.twitter.com/MUOl3XPyWT
— Neal Collins (@nealcol) November 10, 2018
5) When will security improve at South African stadiums?
With security a major focus this season after the fan violence shown by Kaizer Chiefs fans last season, and Pirates fans the season before, the fact that a supporter managed to bypass security to confront former Sundowns assistant coach Mokwena in the Pirates technical area is nothing short of a disgrace.
Questions will yet again be asked to both the clubs, security personnel and stadium management as clearly there is a need for further security on games of such a magnitude.
Coach Rhulani is making enemies because molomo… pic.twitter.com/Av2xWzjtIZ
— Kgauza wa Lecowza (@KgaugeloSM) November 10, 2018
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix