South Africa: Soweto Derby Ends in Dull Stalemate

Much was expected from the first Soweto derby of the 2016/17 Absa Premiership season when Orlando Pirates hosted their all time rivals, Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Saturday. The fixture failed to match the previous exciting encounters that have seen this game being recognised across the globe.

Kaizer Chiefs, the away side, unexpectedly had the better part of possession but failed to make use of it with Pirates looking more threatening with the ball. The first real chance of the game came as early as the seventh minute when Zimbabwean-import, Michelle Katsvairo slipped past the Pirates defence with a diving header that almost found the back of but went agonizingly over the bar. The home side steadily gained control of the game with Senegalese anchorman, Issa Sarr breaking most of the Chiefs attacks in the middle of the park.

Muhsin Ertugral had to make a forced change from his line up that saw Riyaad Norodien coming in the place of crowd favourite Luvuyo Memela due to a stomach bug. However, the change proved to work in Pirates favour, with the youngster being the liveliest player in Bucs midfield. The skillful midfielder threaded through an excellent through ball that saw Thabo Rakhale left with the keeper to beat but his poor first touch saw the oncoming Itumeleng Khune comfortably collecting the ball before the forward could attempt a shot.

Pirates were back in the Chiefs half on the half hour mark when defender, Thabo Matlaba cut in from the flank to unleash an ambitious effort from a distance, hoping to catch Khune off his line but his well taken strike went over the bar.

Chiefs should have went to the break with the lead after former Mamelodi Sundowns captain, Ramahlwe Mphahlele pin pointed a cross to Hedrick Eisksten but the nippy midfielder misdirected his volley with just the keeper to beat.

Coming back from the break, Pirates pushed numbers forward in search of a lead. A brilliantly struck shot just outside the box by Gift Motupa in the 47th minute found Khune on full alert. A minute later, it was Motupa again asking questions, this time wasting a gifted opportunity after Zimbabwean danger man, Tendai Ndoro, laid the ball to him but he ballooned it over the bar to the disappointment of his teammates.

The introduction of Simphiwe Tshabalala just after the hour mark added some spark to the visitors' attack. The experienced midfielder gave Pirates a scare in the 75th minute with a venomous strike from outside the box that was parried away by Brighton Mhlongo to the relief of the Bucs fans.

After absorbing most of the pressure throughout the game, the introduction of fresh legs steered the last 10 minutes of the game to the visitors. Mphahlele was unlucky to get his first goal in Chiefs colours after his 82nd minute header from a George Lebese cross couldn't find the back of the net.

Ertugral couldn't hide his disappointment of the result but praised his team's effort.

"I am quite disappointed with the result but very happy with the performance. We had them at our mercy most of the time but poor finishing let us down. There were a few occasions where they gave us problems and had more of the possession but we looked far more threatening going forward," said the Turkish mentor.

Chiefs coach, Steve Komphela said that with a bit of luck, his side could have gotten away with three points.

"When playing matches such as a derby, there is an element of luck that comes into play. We created some good chances especially towards the end but our finishing was not up to standard. Credit must also go to Pirates for a tough challenge they gave us. A point is better than a loss and we look forward to our next game," concluded Komphela.

Source: Confederation of African Football.

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