|NOT TOO SHABBY: Siphiwe Tshabalala, scorer of the first goal on Saturday|
My son is Buccaneer. He’s nine. Already the double-treble emblazoned on the front of his first Orlando Pirates shirt is starting to fade to pink. My missus is a Sea Robber too. She was hiding with the dog behind the sofa by the time Kaizer Chiefs scored their second goal in the Soweto Derby on Saturday.
To be honest, in the nicest possible way, Orlando Pirates fans are revolting. And if they’re not, they should be. They are behind promoted Chippa United and Q2 winners Polokwane City in the PSL standings as I write. The ridiculous appointment of previously failed Serbian head coach Vladimir Vermecovic is now history and caretaker Eric Tinkler needs a miracle and a few million rand to turn things around.
On the other hand, Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter will not have missed the ironic detail on Saturday afternoon. While his side were extending their unbeaten PSL start to 14 games, Chelsea’s “invincibles” were tripped up by Newcastle United.
While the AmaKhosi debated a habitually goalless Soweto Derby first half in the dressing room underneath Soccer City, Jose Mourinho’s men finally came unstuck despite Didier Drogba’s late goal.
And within seconds of the final whistle blowing on the Blues 2-1 defeat at St James’ Park 8000km north, Siphiwe Tshabalala finished Bernard Parker’s cross with a near-perfect left-foot volley to put Chiefs 1-0 ahead against Orlando Pirates.
Reneilwe Letsholonwane managed to miss from three yards before George Lebese produced the moment of the match: a low cross so good substitute Siphelele Mthembu only needed to fall over the ball to score with his trailing leg.
And that was that. While Baxter enjoyed a FIFTH successive Soweto Derby without defeat, Chelsea were watching Manchester City close the gap at the top of the Premier League to just three points.
Baxter’s no mug. He knows reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns are now second, waiting for the same sort of collapse which saw the AmaKhosi caught and beaten last season by some distance.
With Bidvest Wits also picking up a win over the weekend, Baxter said: "We haven’t won anything yet. Of course I’m delighted with this result but if I try and analyse, the first half was poor, for both teams.
"I thought it was too slow, there were too many mistakes and a dearth of real chances.”
In truth, NEITHER SIDE managed a shot on target in those turgid opening 45 minutes. Did Chelsea’s demise spark Baxter’s men in to action?
Baxter added: "We played fantastically well in the first 20 minutes of the second half. We could have killed the game off, 2-0, but we didn't. It's a bad habit and we let them came back at us.
|DOGGED APPROACH: Soweto derby in Collins household|
"You have to take into account how big this Soweto Derby is, the boys were very nervous, they know what’s at stake in a game like this.
"But you know me. There is a long way to go. I am delighted tonight but tomorrow everything is back to normal again and we’ll be working hard."
With both Sundowns and Chiefs off to tackle the African Champions League, anything could yet happen. Gaps can disappear. What was it Tefu Mashmaite said last week: “We don’t want to talk about a lead at the top, remember what happened last year.”
But the truth is, if Chiefs beat Platinum Stars they’ll have 39 points after 15 games. With 30 to play, that means they can justifiably hope to double that to a record haul of 78, 13 better than the 65-point record set by Sundowns last season.
But what can we say about Orlando Pirates, overtaken by the likes of unfashionable Polokwane City later on Saturday evening? Caretaker Eric Tinkler, now 9th, talked about “low morale” and “lack of confidence”.
It’s hard to blame the former Barnsley and Bafana midfielder as he tries to pick up the pieces after Vladimir Vermecovic’s chaotic reign. With Mamelodi Sundowns next up tomorrow (Wednesday), Tinkler continues to tell impatient fans that Lehlohonolo Majoro and Kermit Erasmus are “too similar to play up front together” which is simply nonsense.
Truth is, VV was ALWAYS a terrible choice. Truth is, Senzo Meyiwa would have been embarrassed by recent Pirates results. Truth is, something needs to be done at Orlando.
A shorter version of this story appears in www.thenewage.co.za today.