After beating Kaizer Chiefs thrice in successive Cup encounters, ABSA Premier League defending champions Orlando Pirates are the true kings of South African football hands down, even before their first league encounter of the 2011/12 season. Yet another Soweto derby is coming this weekend in the ABSA Premier League, and the Ghosts will be having an upper hand and favourites tags around their necks. However, win or lose, who cares. The Bucs have room for complacency and that even eases pressure off them to wallop sorry Amakhosi.
The chief architecture of the Chiefs demise has been the midfield antics of red-hot Oupa ‘Ace’ Manyisa who scored the winning goal at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night in the MTN-8 Cup final. The Happy People have also depended on the industry of Happy Jele and Andile Jali who complements Manyisa is the greatest way possible. Actually, Jali is the hub of the team with his destroyer strengths as he stops everything on its track single-handedly. Oupa takes over when possession is won and tears opposition mercilessly apart.
Captain Lucky Legkwathi and Siyabonga Sangweni have been so rock-steady so far, being as tight as the behind of a goat whose tail is always up but never lets water in, no matter how heavy it rains. Moeneeb Josephs have never being stretched to his limits as a result of this solid back four that has Cloete on the left. In attack, Tlou Segolela looks a little embarrassed of his own pace and is always operating on safe mode until he thinks he may be substituted. Several times he failed to engage higher gears on the flanks and in doing so, has been a very ordinary striker. Julio Cesar Leal may run out of patience with him and use him as an impact player, coming in as a super-sub.
Frankly speaking, Chiefs coach has no solution for Leal’s Pirates. He is now technically banking on the Pirates’ burn out and ambush the league title in 8 months’ time. The tone of his interviews is that the Sea Robbers have hit peak too soon while his side is still on the rise. If his theory is correct, he could be excused when Chiefs take the title home in 2012. However, VV must be honest to himself, layers and the fans alike.
Kaizer Chiefs heavyweights like Simphiwe Tshabalala. Itumeleng Khune and Reneiloe Letsholonyane are either burnt out by national team duties or by the frustrations of failing to get overseas moves. This has led to dry supply lines to front-runners like Bernard Parker. Even if Knowledge Musona would come back and go deep to fetch balls in midfield as he did, he would not survive the current set-up.
Josta Dladla is playing a game of his life but I have always been a fan of Abia Nale. If the pair can be utilised together and longer, it would provide a penetrative impetus to the Chiefs attack that rarely created one versus one or even two versus two situations on Saturday. While Manjoro was a hit last year, his climatisation to Chiefs style and Gauteng life needs a lot of patience indeed. Sithembiso Ngcobo has been VV’s gun-man for a while now, but Amakhosi have not bothered using his killer instincts.
As we await this derby, only two things may happen. A very open fast paced entertaining match in which Chiefs will want to take the initiative and Pirates want to ascertain their status, or a very dull encounter where the Bucs will be playing ‘come and bet us’ and the Glamour Boys of Naturena just waiting to be laid over as they know the inevitability of the matter.
May the best team (Bucs) win.