Monday, 7 April 2014

Why football's a funny old game... but for Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns are no laughing matter

Khune Konfounded: Sundowns' freak goal

AS Stuart Baxter found out yet again on Saturday night, football is a funny old game. But as we’ve been saying for a few weeks now, Pitso Mosimane can no longer be considered funny.

The axed Bafana Bafana coach’s bizarre but vital win over champions and once-runaway leaders Kaizer Chiefs at Soccer City – Baxter’s first home league defeat in nearly two seasons – was met by disbelief in many quarters, but not by Pitso as his side moved level on 52 points at the top.

Though their dramatic 1-0 victory – based on a Teko Modise chip that should never have entered any respectable net – was met by utter self-belief by Mosimane as he strives to become the first black South African coach to win the PSL.

Though they started strongly, Masandawana were on the back foot for most of the game as Willard Katsande and Reneilwe Letsholonyane denied Modise and the highly-paid Sundowners the time and space to create anything meaningful to threaten a clean-sheeted return for the great Itumeleng Khune.

At the sharp end, with Knowledge Musona injured, Chiefs were on top while Bernard Parker was doing his version of the invisible man and Kingston Nkatha continued to test the patience of bamboozled AmaKhosi fans, who turned up in numbers for what was billed “The Title Decider”.

But Pitso saw none of this. In his mind, this win – welcomed by neutrals as it opens up the title race with six games to play – was justified, right, earned. And when you consider Bernard Parker’s free-kick in the reverse fixture, I guess he’s right.

Pitso said: “Let's be honest, it was a one-goal game. We got it. We earned it. We are sweating for it. Why can't we go to FNB and get respect?

"The guys are there, they fight, they work very hard. And I told you that whoever wins it is never, never gonna get it on a silver platter.

"But let's be honest, it's only three points, it doesn't mean anything. You can't win tonight and then you go to Bloemfontein Celtic and you don't concentrate.”

Pitso had little mercy on a vanquished foe with a right to feel slightly aggrieve. He added: "If you keep Shabba quiet, you are okay. Katsande can have the ball, he's not so much of a harm. You deal with the Zimbabwean striker (Nkatha).

"Ja, we are lucky that Knowledge was not here. So it's okay, you can let Morgan (Gould) have the ball, you know where he's gonna kick it. So it's there, there's nothing new.

"We are doing what we have to do. We will go game by game. We absorb the pressure, and we are good."

Baxter was utterly bemused. He said: "I look at the game and if there's any satisfaction it's that it takes a freak goal to beat us at FNB. But that's scant comfort at the moment.

“You talk about luck, skill, good play by the opposition. The top teams don't usually bitch about that, they usually go on to score a goal in any case."

But perhaps this final stanza from Pitso: "I'd rather be Kaizer Chiefs than Sundowns at this point in time. They've got the games, they've got the points, and they've got a game in hand.”

"It's only bragging rights, we're still behind.”

Only just Pitso. Only just.

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