At least for now, the second last Soweto derby of the season is one Kaizer Chiefs wish they can abscond. This is the first of two ABSA Premier League encounters between champions Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, and Amakhosi have had enough beating that they feel fulfilling tomorrow’s meeting is but academic. I give them much chance in this fixture than they give themselves, but who cam blame them.
The Bucs have recorded four trophies in five finals, accounting for Amakhosi scalps on three successive occasions and banking R32 million in the process. The Happy People have acquired services of new signing, Tokelo Rantie from IFK Hasselholm of Sweden. Rantie is a striker expected to start in a line-up accused of being blunt as strikers are running on a dry scoring patch. His presence makes naught the fact that Benni McCarthy and Thulasizwe Mbuyane will not be available for selection due to injury.
Basking in the glory of being a first Pirates team to beat Chiefs in a final since 1988, Amabhakabhaka are in danger of being complacent against a team that are basically and literally a wounded lion. Reneiloe Letsholonyane made his first appearance in months in the last derby that Chiefs lost 0-1, upping his game to score a glorious goal in the Amakhosi loss to Ajax Cape Town. His form will easily rub on Simphiwe Tshabalala and with Tinashe Nengomashe showing glimpses of brilliant performances he is renowned of, we are in for a huge midfield battle. This is made all better given the new Bafana Bafana sensation, Oupa Manyisa’s incredible rich vein of form.
Manyisa, with Andile Jali, will be very instrumental as to where the balance of play will tilt. Although wasteful Pirates strikers managed a single goal against Santos from Ndumiso Mabena, coach Julio Cesar Leal is not going to spend any sleepless night. That win pushed the Buccaneers to 4th on the log table with 9 points. This is just a point behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns of Pretoria.
So far, Chiefs fans had been feeling let down by the goalkeeping of South Africa’s number one. Itumeleng Khune has been exposed by the retreating midfield and inept defence. His class in shot-stopping and ball distribution, especially in counter-attacking, is exceptional. By contrast, Moeneeb Josephs has not been tested owing to the water-tight defence of Lucky Legkwati and Siyabonga Sangweni. Happy Jele and Cloete give Pirates the balance that Chiefs lack. There is no doubt about Jambo and Tau on the wings. Tau’s defensive abilities are far dwarfed by his attacking prowess and this makes Amakhosi suffer.
Anyway, Pirates enjoyed a cool mobile convenience from Peugeot who joined Pirates as Official Vehicle Partner. Orlando Pirates and Peugeot announced a comprehensive across the range partnership that will result in the display and usage by Orlando Pirates of Peugeot’s array of vehicles – from the Peugeot Boxer Panel Van, through the Boxer 19-Seater to the Peugeot 308 Access to the RCZ for the Player of the Year.
While I sympathise with Chiefs, their lifeline in tomorrow’s match is depended on the mercies of Pirates strikers. Whether Manyisa and other midfielders have other ideas, remains to be seen and a lot will depend on their negotiation skills in midfield come kick-off.