Late Mbuyane goal spoils Chiefs’ party

2011-02-26 17:29

Kaizer Chiefs fans whistled in celebratory anticipation when the name of Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was called out over the public address system, announcing the starting line-up just before the kick-off in yesterday’s Soweto Derby.

It took just 12 minutes for the Amakhosi faithful to reap the fruits of their sceptical whistles and ululations, and they jumped for joy, as if to say “I told you so”, when the young goalminder, standing in for the injured Moeneeb Josephs, hesitated to come out for a Jimmy Tau cross, allowing Kaizer Motaung Jnr to head in the opening goal of the game.
An impressive 92 515 fans attended the match on a day that the late Chiefs legend and stalwart of African football, Pule Ace Ntsoelengoe, would have turned 59.

Also, a minute of silence was observed before kick-off in memory of ­Thomas “Zero” Johnson, who played for both clubs back in the ’60s and ’70s.

In the end the match ended in a 1-1 draw after Thulasizwe Mbuyane equalised with a predatory header in injury time following a mistake by Khune that was almost identical to ­Meyiwa’s.

The result takes Pirates back to the top of the PSL log jointly with Ajax Cape Town on 46 points, hence at the final whistle Bucs players celebrated as if they had already won the title.

But their joy was understandable, as at one stage the game looked almost completely lost until a late second-half resurgence. Pirates have now gone 14 games unbeaten and the last time they tasted defeat was against Chiefs back in November.

Bucs are now perched on top of the log owing to having conceded only 14 goals against Ajax’s 21.

Chiefs are third on 44 points, and their players’ hasty retreat to the changeroom after full-time was perhaps an indication that they know they threw away their best chance of claiming the top spot, and that a lot of hard work lies ahead if they want to reclaim the title that they last won under Ted ­Dumitru.

While the game itself was a spectacle, the pitch of this world- class venue looked somewhat suspect, covered in brown patches that got simply uprooted each time players went into a tackle.

This led to some comical moments when workmen dressed in overalls ran onto the pitch carrying spades and forks to do emergency repairs during brief water breaks called by referee Jerome Damone.

Perhaps the PSL should also look into enterprising ways of ­luring fans to the stadium early to avoid the late rush that has seemingly become a tradition, albeit a dangerous one.

Bucs coach Rudi Krol’s plan of leaving his best attacking players on the bench to use as impact players in the second half proved key after the introduction of Mark Mayambela seemed to unsettle the Amakhosi defence.

In the absence of suspended Tlou Segolela and the injured Dikgang Mabalane, Krol left Mayambela, perhaps his best attacking option, on the bench and started instead with Phenyo Mongala on the left wing.

Mongala struggled and was replaced by striker Ndumiso Mabena in the second half.

Mbuyane, who normally plays as a supporting striker, slotted into right midfield where the injured Mabalane or Segolela usually operate, and also did not sparkle.

Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic also applied the same the formation, playing Motaung as a lone striker with Knowledge Musona in a supporting role, with Simphiwe Tshabalala and Josta Dladla operating out wide and Letsholonyane and Nengomasha operating in the engine room.

But the young Bucs duo of Andile Jali and Oupa ­Manyisa excelled by matching the experienced Chiefs duo of Nengomasha and Letsholonyane.

Bucs woke up from their first-half slumber at the start of the second half, taking the game to Chiefs with Manyisa calling the shots in the centre of the park.

Mayambela’s introduction brought the Ghost back to life, forcing Chiefs to defend deep in their half.

The pressure seemed to pay off when Mayambela found Mashego in the box and the striker slotted home, only to be judged offside. Pirates continued to raid the Chiefs goalmouth in search of an equaliser, but the Phefeni Glamour Boys seemed to relish sitting back and absorbing the pressure, hoping to catch Bucs on the counter.

But a Chiefs victory was not to be as Mbuyane capitalised on a blunder by Khune to head in the equaliser. Outside the stadium, Bucs fans celebrated as if the league title was already in their cabinet, but a youthful Ajax and a wounded Chiefs are still standing in the way.

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