Derby as exciting as it should be

2010-04-06 00:00

IT took the excitement of a cup encounter, the splendour of a World Cup semi-final venue, the excitement generated by a sell-out crowd of 50 000 and, of course, a sterling performance by both sets of players to inject excitement back into the ­Soweto derby yesterday.

Kaizer Chiefs ran out 3-0 penalty shoot-out winners over Orlando Pirates after a goalless Telkom Knockout semi-final at Moses Mabhida Stadium. The derby was as enthralling as its reputation requires it should be, especially when compared to two dull league encounters in the past PSL season.

Chiefs will now contest a final against Ajax Cape Town that Premier Soccer League CEO Kjetil Siem announced will be held in Durban again, though at King’s Park rather than Moses Mabhida. The day of the final, to be announced today, will be either on Saturday or Sunday depending on the logistics of a car auction at King’s Park.

Siem said that despite an earlier request by the 2010 Local Organising Committee to use World Cup stadiums for the Telkom Knockout in order to allow the organisers to test the venues, the “super-seeding” process to have the pitches at the required Fifa level has begun at most stadiums, and starts at Moses Mabhida this week.

Ajax, finalists in the MTN8 earlier this season where they were soundly thumped 6-0 by Lamontville Golden Arrows, reached the Telkom final with a 2-0 win over AmaZulu in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

There might not have been any goals scored yesterday, but in a fast-paced first half dominated by Chiefs, where Amakhosi could have wrapped the game up, and less frenetic second half and extra time, where Bucs gained the upper hand, there was plenty of action to keep the crowd entertained.

Penalty shootouts are invariably cruel occasions that can reduce players to a sobbing heap, as yesterday’s did to Pirates’ young striker Ndumiso Mabena. He missed the decisive kick and was left an inconsolable figure on the Moses Mabhida turf.

After Mabena’s miss it was left to Tshepo Bulu to step up and seal the victory for Chiefs with a finely struck penalty that Bucs goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa could only palm into the net.

A consolation for Mabena was that all the Pirates kickers missed their spot-kicks.

Happy Jele set the tone. After a first effort was stopped by Arthur Bartman, but had to be retaken, the defender struck his second attempt wide. Then Terror Fanteni saw his kick well saved by Bartman. In between those misses, Chiefs’ Jose Torrealba and David Mathebula both easily slotted past Meyiwa.

Amakhosi threatened to overwhelm their arch-rivals in the first half, and four sharp saves by Meyiwa kept his side in the game. Three of those were in the first 16 minutes, from Nkosinathi Nhleko, Knowledge Musona and Mandla Masango’s efforts, and a fourth near the end of the half to spare Mahamutsa Rooi the embarrassment of an own goal.

After weathering the storm, Pirates had some good chances to win the game in the second 45 minutes.

In the 66th minute, Bennett Chenene’s ball floated in from the left and was volleyed over the bar by Mabena.

Joseph Kamwendo’s weaving run teed up substitute Fanteni in the 77th minute, who forced a good save from Bartman. With 11 minutes to go, Jele headed Kamwendo’s corner just too high.

Two minutes into the first half of extra time, Fanteni had the best chance of the game, expertly controlling Dikgang Mabalane’s chip into the area, but seeing his shot curl on to the crossbar. Then Mabalane found space on the right and squared to Mabena, who again skied his effort.

Chiefs showed they were still in the game when Nhleko’s ball across goal was over-run by Musona.

Bucs were reduced to 10 men in the 116th minute when, after being booked by referee Daniel Bennett for a foul on substitute Bulu, Rooi responded with a harsh retort to earn a second yellow and be sent off.

Seconds after the restart, David Mathebula’s pass put Bulu through, with the striker’s shot well saved by Meyiwa. That was the last chance in earnest and the game went into penalties.

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