Pirates face rivals' mocking

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Orlando Pirates are finding out the hard way the meaning of the adage that a bird in the hand is worth two more in the bush.

This as they struggle to capitalise on the many league games they had in hand because of their good run in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.

They had to start at the bottom of the log and had a massive catch-up to do. However, they've struggled to move out of mid-table as they still languish in seventh position following two successive 1-0 defeats at the hands (or is it feet) of Mamelodi Sundowns at home and Polokwane City, away plus a goalless draw against Ajax Cape Town in the Mother City.

This could not have come at a worst time as arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs are perched at the top of the log. They are having a good run that has just seen them notch-up nine straight wins before being halted by Maritzburg United who held them to a 2-all draw last week.

They got back to winning ways in mid-week, giving Bloemfontein Celtic a 3-0 pasting, much as the score was a bit flattering given the number of chances Phunya Sele Sele squandered.

It won’t get easier for Pirates as besides the league, they will now also have to shift their focus to the Nedbank Cup that is once more upon us.

In a bid to stem the inconsistent performances and results, Pirates’ management have appointed Vladimir “VV” Vermezovic to take over as coach after Roger de Sa resigned under pressure a fortnight ago with his former assistant Eric Tinkler taking over as a caretaker coach.

This move is not likely to save them from Chiefs fans who were very quick to point out that VV is actually their club’s reject and did not achieve much at the Naturena side.

In his three years there, he failed to land the coveted league title, only securing the Telkom KO Cup (twice).

Just as England had Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool - that is before the emergence of Chelsea and Manchester City, thanks to megabucks from Russia (with love) and Abu Dhabi - Spain has Barcelona and Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan in Italy, Zamalek and Al Ahly in Egypt and Africa Sport and  Ases Momosas in Ivory Coast as well as Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak in Ghana, South Africa has Chiefs and Pirates.

The teasing known as ukujovana or go gwarana in township parlance between the two sets of fans of these giants, never ceases. They take even the smallest of matters to shebeens, taxis, busses, trains and lately to social network platforms.

That is why sometimes even if these clubs are doing well, a loss to each other, always carries serious repercussions for the incumbent coach.
So currently the bragging rights sit with Amakhosi who are riding the crest of the wave and seem set to defend their league title. This though is not a given as there are still some hurdles that await them along the way.

And none of them tougher than the upcoming Soweto Derby on March 15.

The current set-up is building nicely to this much anticipated fixture and I can tell you now, tickets will be sold out the minute they go on sale as none of the two clubs’ die-hards would want to miss that battle.

Is it good for SA football that this is the only match that fills up the FNB Stadium? The answer is no, but who cares really. The derby has proven time and again that people just can’t get enough of it.

So, things are looking exciting and there are many out there who have already marked March 15 as an important day of the year.

The Soweto derby could not come at a more opportune time and hopefully VV will already be in the hot Bucs seat on the day just to add more flavor.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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