The pendulum swang in Kaizer Chiefs’ favour in the Soweto derby yesterday as Amakhosi registered another win over their perennial rivals Orlando Pirates in the epic fixture.
But whether Chiefs are slowly turning the tables on the side that beat them three times last season remains to be seen.
The saying that there is a fine line between a win and a defeat in sport rang true in this encounter at FNB Stadium yesterday.
It took two defensive errors right at the death to separate the two giants. Just when a howler by Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi had handed Pirates a lifeline – and a likely share of the spoils – Bucs defender Olisa Ndah gave away a needless penalty in injury time.
Yesterday’s derby was the fifth time the blockbuster game was played without fans, but wherever the two sides’ multitude of fans were watching from, it was far from the dull fixture this encounter has often turned out to be in the past.
Interestingly, Pirates were the better side on the day in terms of the build-ups, but they were undone by Chiefs’ quick transitions on the counter-attack.
The difference for Amakhosi was again the good understanding between Keagan Dolly and Khama Billiat.
Their telepathy was again on show as demonstrated by how the former Mamelodi Sundowns team-mates were a handful for the Bucs defence whenever Amakhosi launched their attacks.
It was largely from their combination that saw Dolly score a brace in his Soweto derby debut to take his tally for the season to five. Billiat should also have been on the scoreboard but his cheeky attempt at goal was smothered by Pirates goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane 10 minutes from regulation time.
It was the foul on Billiat by Ndah that resulted in Dolly converting from the penalty spot in injury time.
Pirates would later rue not taking their own chances, given how they constantly bombarded their opponents’ goal area, only to concede both goals.
It also boiled down to the impact of the second half mass substitutions that Bucs deployed.
The introduction of attackers Kabelo Dlamini, Tshegofatso Mabasa and Terrence Dzvukamanja gave the Buccaneers a new dimension in the front line and Pirates were back in it thanks to a Linda Mntambo’s equaliser three minutes from regulation time.
Mntambo finished off a lose ball after Akpeyi had fumbled the shot.
After Bucs had drawn level, the game was set for a draw but the late penalty broke the heart of Pirates coach Mandla Ncikazi on his official debut in the dugout of a Soweto derby game.
And it was Dolly who proved yet again to be the difference for Chiefs since he joined the club in August after a three-year spell at Montpellier in France.
Next up for Dolly, who has been recalled to Bafana Bafana, will be a face-off with his team-mate Billiat on Thursday when South Africa host Zimbabwe in a penultimate World Cup qualifier at the same venue.