PRETORIA – Never mind the 0-0 scoreline in this top half of the table Absa Premiership fixture, because the real action was between the two dugouts of hosts Mamelodi Sundowns and their in-form visitors Orlando Pirates.
In fact, the lackadaisical showing on the pitch on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld was hampered by what transpired 38 minutes into this match when a Sundowns fan, exposing the poor security personnel for a game of this magnitude, managed to find his way to the Pirates bench and charge at assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena.
A few moments earlier, it was the usual handbags that you would find at any game between two rivals – a bad tackle, no caution from the referee and war of words from either side of the technical area.
ut a Sundowns supporter, and Mokwena, took it a bit far.
Mokwena had been booed by the very same spectators who knew and loved him not so long ago when he was in a similar capacity at their club, and he retaliated by waving them off too to show his frustration.
The game never really recovered from that scuffle, which lasted about five minutes before play resumed and referee Daniel Bennett blew for halftime.
Just when both teams were making their way to the tunnel for a bit of breather, calm the nerves and regroup, there was more drama on the way to the change room – Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane demanding more security in his technical area, Mokwena leaving the dugout nine minutes before halftime and goalkeeper coach Andrew Sparkes getting an earful from Pirates official Floyd Mbele.
The second half was a lot less dramatic, but the tempo of the match was spoiled by how the first had ended.
Even though there was an attempt from the two coaches, Mosimane and his Buccaneers counterpart Micho Sredojevic, with some tactical changes and the introduction of players like Phakamani Mahlambi and Augustine Mulenga, the game had long gone down a gear in the first half already.
Sundowns remained unbeaten with three games in hand, while Pirates were still top of the log prior to Bidvest Wits playing their game later on Saturday evening.
All the intensity that was expected from this game was non-existent, despite the hype ahead of this fixture and Loftus being a sold-out venue.
The truth must still be revealed: what happened to Rhulani Mokwena at Sundowns?