|Derby date: Majoro makes the switch|
JUST when you thought it was safe to predict a solid Soweto Derby win for Kaizer Chiefs, along comes a wet Wednesday night in the PSL to put all prophesies on hold.
While Orlando Pirates – complete with new boss Vladimir “Work Permit” Vermezovic and substitute Lehlohonolo “Big Ballz” Majoro – sloshed their way to a 1-0 win over Moroka Swallows in the "original" Soweto derby, Platinum Stars ended the AmaKhosi’s four-month streak with a comprehensive 2-0 win at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Shock swept the nation, much like the monsoon currently engulging us. Chiefs, unbeaten since Ajax Cape Town on November 5, went in to the game against Allan Freese’s unsung heroes on the back of an emphatic 7-0 African Champions League triumph over Mozambique champions Liga Muçulmana with Knowledge Musona slamming a quick hat-trick in Maputo.
This was supposed to be No 18. Stuart Baxter, who won the PSL and Nedbank Cup double in his first season at Naturena last year, completely under-estimated the Fokeng Crocodiles, ignoring the fact Dikwena had gobbled up the MTN8 and Telkom KO silverware before Christmas.
Mbax “rested” his three top scorers – Knowledge, Kingston Nkatha and the PSL’s hottest shot Bernard Parker – and opted to go with a rusty Katlego “Killer” Mphela up front on his own. Surprisingly, Wolverhampton-born Baxter also went with his infamous “three towers” formation with Morgan Gould, Tefu Mashamaite and Eric Mathoho forming a centre-back triangle, much like that one off Bermuda where people go missing.
Freese’s men never looked back. The impressive Siphelele Mthembu threaded his way through the trio of towers after just nine minutes to beat goalkeeping stand-in Reyaad Pieterse and free-scoring Malawian Robert Ng'ambi wrapped things up on the hour, chesting home the second on the far post.
|Close shave: getting rid of the "Kaizer Chiefs unbeaten"|
beard during BOLLOCKZ! at Ballz this morning
By then, the impatient AmaKhosi, gloating over their 17-match run of W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-D-D-W-W-W-W, were beginning to grumble. Even the arrival of Knowledge and Kingston failed to cheer things up. The leaders were well-beaten. The beard I started way back at the start of that run was GONE – I promised Stuart I’d shave when they lost, and I spent this morning presenting my football show BOLLOCKZ! while ridding myself of facial hair.
And throughout that high-quality clash in Fokeng, Orlando Pirates were producing a vital but unspectacular win at Dobsonville.
Kermit Erasmus, so poor in caretaker Eric Tinkler’s final game – a hugely disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of AmaTuks – did EXACTLY what he said he would and upped his game. The former SuperSport United man hit the post early on and then crashed home the only goal of the game to put a rare smile on VV’s face.
After his first game in charge, Vlad said before the gigantic clash against his former club: “It was the win we needed to lift the mood before the Soweto Derby. There is still a lot to be done. But I watched the reserves today, Klate, Sangweni and the rest are all ready to step up to the first team.”
With the Chiefs run broken and Pirates apparently rejuvenated by their new coach, those confident predictions of continued AmaKhosi success are scuppered. Mphela? He wouldn’t need Barry Roux to rid him of the “Killer” tag right now. He is entirely innocent, he hasn't produced a lethal shot in ages. For the first time this season, tough midfielder Willard Katsande was unable to halt the opposition’s flow, only Simphiwe Tshabalala appeared to be ready and willing on a difficult night in the North West.
And with the BIG ONE looming, it’s all going off. Majoro emerged after his brief first outing for Pirates since his controversial move from Chiefs to say he was prepared for the boo-boys at Soccer City on Saturday, eager to prove his point against his former team-mates. AmaKhosi captain and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, officially out for a month after spraining his ankle before Bafana Bafana’s record 5-0 defeat against Brazil, is now rated 50-50 to play in front of 90,000 in South Africa’s showpiece. A miraculous recovery.
And then there was Zeca Marques, the crest-fallen Swallows boss, telling us: “There is no justice in football. Senzo Meyiwa was Pirates man of the match, he made two great saves in the second half. No way we should have lost that game.”
And Zeca’s right. Pirates weren’t that impressive. Chiefs will have their three big guns back on Saturday. Baxter knows defeat in the Soweto Derby will put dangerous Bidvest Wits right back in it if they beat lowly Free State Stars in the evening game on Saturday.
That combination of results will put the Clever Boys firmly back in the Hunt, as Gavin will point out: a game in hand, three points behind.
Baxter is well aware of that. Chiefs can’t lose on Saturday. Pirates aren’t good enough to beat them. But a draw might suit both parties. Me? I’m going for an AmaKhosi win with Parker, Musona and/or Nkatha back in the starting line-up.
But this is the Derby. Only a madman makes predictions when Chiefs play Pirates. Form counts for nothing they say. So I’m sticking to my guns: Chiefs 3-1.
Whilst I was shaving, also spoke to Danny Jordaan, the SAFA president about the future of Bafana Bafana and our women, Banyana Banyana, on BOLLOCKZ! this morning. The interview is HERE:
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