at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates beware! The league goal-scoring touch that had seemingly dissipated into thin air with the smoke of National Braai Day is back.
Bernard Parker scored his first Premiership league goal since September 24 to set Stuart Baxter’s team en route to a resounding 3-0 victory reminiscent of the one that put paid to Ajax’s championship dream two seasons ago.
There was also a maiden Amakhosi goal for defender Pa Gaxa, which was celebrated with the gusto typical of a player who never finds the opposition net, and a pearl by Siphiwe Tshabalala as Chiefs showed that the loss of their unbeaten record to Platinum Stars has not killed off their desire to “reclaim the glory”.
Granted, history suggests results preceding the Soweto derby are nothing more than numbers on a piece of paper.
However, there can be no denying that Parker will go into Saturday’s clash against league champions Pirates with a bit of a spring in his step after a goal drought that was making a mockery of his status as the league’s leading scorer.
The seven goals that had put him on top of the scorers’ chart had come in three matches early in the season, four of those in the season-opener.
Since that win over Wits at Mbombela on Heritage Day (popularly referred to as Braai Day) Parker had not scored, his last goal coming in the Telkom Knockout defeat by the same Wits in October.
There was no stopping him at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night though.
Parker opened the scoring with a pile-driver that beat Sander Westerveld ten minutes before the break.
He could so easily have scored more, but he often allowed the ball to bounce off his feet, his lack of a proper right foot seeing him shoot poorly or wide.
Not that his failures mattered, as Chiefs made their dominance count on 65 minutes through Gaxa’s grass-cutting shot that went in through Westerveld’s legs.
Tshabalala’s stunning free-kick ten minutes later sealed what was a deserved victory for Amakhosi, and no doubt a confidence booster ahead of the big one on Saturday.
Yet, when they conduct their review, Baxter and his technical team will be worried that they did not punish Ajax enough to send the fear of Barcelona into Saturday’s opposition.
The Urban Warriors should have been given a thorough hiding had Chiefs only been more lethal in front of goal.
Parker was an exception, but there were many wasteful players in the famous yellow-and-black jersey – Kingston Nkatha being perhaps the biggest culprit with his indecision and poor finishing that saw the crowd ignore pre-match pleas by the stadium announcer not to boo the players.
Gaxa missed a good chance as early as the ninth minute, the defender shooting wide after making a brilliant run.
Tshabalala also squandered opportunities while Westerveld pulled off some good saves, one of them deep into injury time, to deny substitute George Lebese.
Early on, the Amakhosi’s defending looked pretty suspect, allowing Matthew Booth a free header from a corner and then parting like the Red Sea to allow Khama Billiat a free shot on goal, only for Itumeleng Khune to deny him with a spectacular stop. Such poor defending against Pirates will not go unpunished, and the scoring opportunities will definitely be as many as they were here.
All that and history notwithstanding, Amakhosi fans will go to the FNB Stadium on Saturday cock-a-hoop, no matter Pirates’ result at Chippa United tonight. After all, Parker has rediscovered his scoring touch. – The Mercury