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What an exciting derby

A general air of negativity roused itself unapologetically after this weekend’s Soweto derby. The coaches of both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were distinctly unchuffed in the post match presser following the 1-1 draw at Soccer City.

And people I encountered in person, or on the internet, also vomit burped a tad as they spoke of the game that always stirs up the beloved country. I am usually one to leap merrily onto the bandwagon of depressed diatribe when it comes to talking about the domestic game. According those apocalyptic Mayan fellows, the world is going to end on December 21, and if we are scattered into specks of dust, we will probably be all the better for it for the loss of the dross that is most Absa Premiership football.

Soccer writer Jonty Mark say he quite enjoyed the Soweto derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. Photo by Lefty Shivambu. Credit: Gallo Images

And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday’s derby. There was an electric atmosphere inside the ground, and after a first 20 minutes that did have me wondering if I was going to pass out with boredom, the game thundered into an absolute thriller.

There was Collins Mbesuma netting beautifully against the club that used to idolise him. And there was Lehlohonolo Majoro getting on the end of glorious Cheifs passing move. It ended 1-1 but it could easily have finished 5-5, so many chances were created.

Stuart Baxter and Roger De Sa might have preferred a more fluid, organised game, but this was derby football at it’s frenetic best, chaos assuming full control with wonderful results. One might sigh with exasperation at some woeful finishing, but even that was a reason for wry entertainment, and at least the opportunities came and went.

So many domestic games trundle along at a snail’s pace, with less happening than at a narcolepsy convention. But for me, this one rattled along. There was even some truly poor refereeing thrown in (and let’s face it, what would we do without a match official to criticise), Robert Smith’s failure to send off Siphiwe Tshabalala in the second half for diving going down as my farcical decision of the season so far.

At the end of it all, Chiefs retained that three point lead at the top of the table. It really is suicidal to do so at this stage of the season, but I am going to stick my neck on the block now, on the record, and say I think the Amakhosi will hold onto that lead and win the title. They just look to me like a bit more of a cohesive unit than Pirates, for all the Buccaneers’ individual qualities. Either way, as long as we see more games like we saw on Saturday, you won’t see me complaining. At least for the next five minutes! - The Star

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