An entertaining Sunday in the Absa Premiership had the teams from the Western Cape take four points off the Soweto giants – a 10-man Cape Town City beat Orlando Pirates 1-0 and Stellenbosch held on for a 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs. SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN unpacks some talking points from the encounter.
Pirates and City did battle in the early game and, despite a good start, former Pirates man Mpho Makola received his marching orders. The Sea Robbers again failed in front of goal as they were condemned to a 1-0 loss courtesy of a Kermit Erasmus goal just before half time.
Chiefs also struggled against their opponents from the Cape later in the day as Stellies took the lead against the run of play in the first half, thanks to a header from Leletu Skelem. Amakhosi managed to fight back in the second half and eventually equalised in the 69th minute as Lazarous Kambole netted his first goal for the club but were forced to settle for a draw.
Here are the main talking points:
1) Pressure building as Pirates continue to fire blanks
The Sea Robbers have been struggling to hit the back since the restart, failing to pick up a single win in their four games and have only scored the single goal. Pirates have arguably struggled to convert their chances all season and Zinnbauer admitted after the game that it is something they will be working on.
2) Erasmus proving his worth
#AbsaPrem – HALFTIME:
Cape Town City 1-0 Orlando Pirates
Kermit Erasmus has given 10-men City the edge over his former club Orlando Pirates.
— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) August 23, 2020
The former Pirates striker returned to South Africa just over a year ago after an indifferent spell overseas. The forward may have taken a while to recapture his form, but he is now showing why he is so highly regarded as he notched up his 12th league goal of the season.
3) Mhango’s barren run concern for Zinnbauer
Mhango was the star man when Zinnbauer first arrived at Pirates as he hit the net with regularity as he shot to the top of the goalscoring charts with 14 league goals. However, the forward is now without a goal in six games and started the game against City on the bench. All affiliated Pirates will be hoping he can recapture the form he showed earlier on in the season to help the Buccaneers secure a finish at the top end of the Absa Premiership.
4) Nurkovic to miss Sundowns game, Castro doubtful
Ernst Middendorp tried to protect Samir Nurkovic for the Downs clash by naming him on the substitute’s bench in the hope that he wouldn’t need the Serbian and wouldn’t have to risk him picking up a yellow and subsequent suspension. However, after Castro went off with a hamstring injury, Middendorp was forced to bring on Nurkovic who was then booked in the closing stages.
The German coach will now have a tough decision to make as both Castro and Nurkovic look set to miss the possible title decider against Downs.
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) August 23, 2020
5) Chiefs squad stretched
Not only are Castro and Nurkovic out for the next game but a number of other holes have begun appearing in the Chiefs side. George Maluleka’s early exit to join Downs left them a midfielder short, while Lebogang Manyama and others are struggling with the intensity of playing a game almost every four days.
Middendorp has been forced to turn to the likes of Kambole and Siphelele Ntshangase who have been out of the side most of the season.
6) Pressure building in title race
As we enter the business end of the season, pressure is beginning to build on the front-runners for the league title. Both Chiefs and Downs have stuttered since the restart and with the sides set to square off on Thursday a grandstand conclusion is expected.
Sundowns will of course have the chance to cut Chiefs’ lead down to just three points before kick-off as they face Golden Arrows on Monday night.
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