5 things we learnt from #elKasico
Chiefs’ wastefulness in front of goal
The unavailability of ace marksman Samir Nurkovic is really hurting Gavin Hunt’s team at the moment. Last season’s Footballer of the Year nominee had an operation during the off-season and is still on the sidelines while Chiefs are fending off offers from abroad for the Serbian.
Equally, Leonardo Castro’s rustiness is also still showing after he too only recently returned to the starting XI after missing the final four games of last season. The Colombian fluffed a gilt-edged chance in the first half after being set up by Khama Billiat, which ultimately had a major impact on the eventual result.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s a three-nil game if I’m honest,” Hunt bemoaned at the final whistle. “The first half there we should have been 2-0 up before they scored. We haven’t scored a goal in four games now, the strikers.”
Pirates happy to play musical chairs
From the outside it may seem like coach Josef Zinnbauer is struggling to settle on a starting XI after the German once again made six changes to his line-up for the derby.
Zinnbauer, however, knows the season is still in an embryonic state and is therefore content to shuffle his cards at this stage while his players fine-tune their conditioning, especially after Pirates overhauled their squad during the off-season with a host of new signings.
Thembinkosi Lorch and midfielder Thabang Monare were both handed their first starts of the season and their hunger and desire to impress was evident in their displays, with Lorch claiming the Man of the Match award and Monare singled out for praise.
"You saw the experience that Monare brought, very calm on the ball, he gave an option, he quietened the game a little bit. This was important."
Lorch focused on the job
The Bafana Bafana winger was arrested last month on allegations of assault against his girlfriend in Midrand before being released on R2000 bail.
His off-field troubles are far from over with Lorch set to return to court on November 13. Back at the Buccaneers, he would have been wondering about his future too after the arrival of Namibian flyer Deon Hotto forced him onto the bench for the opening games of the new season.
However, the 27-year-old set aside all his problems in #elKasico to produce a performance everyone knows he is capable of, capping it off with a well-taken third goal that may have killed off any hopes of a Chiefs comeback in the second-leg.
"Compliments to Lorch, he had a top game. Congratulations," Zinnbauer said, while the player was grateful for the opportunity.
"First of all, I would like to thank the Almighty God for the talent that he gave me and I would like to thank my family, especially my dad and my mom for supporting me through difficulties," Lorch said.
Transfer ban hurting Chiefs
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed the Glamour Boys' appeal against a two-window transfer ban earlier this week and the effect showed in the derby.
Whereas Pirates coach Zinnbauer had a host of new signings to call on – many of whom were Hunt’s proteges’ at former club Wits – the new Chiefs mentor had to field youngsters such as Njabulo Blom and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo in his starting line-up before introducing Lebogang Lesako, 17-year-old Keletso Sifama and Happy Mashiane as second-half substitutes.
No fans, no fuss
The Soweto derby remains the highlight on the local football calendar, with many fans turning to social media ahead of the game requesting Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa to relax the lockdown regulations and open the gates.
That was, of course, never going to happen especially with the country approaching a second wave of the coronavirus and everyone had to be content with a virtual experience.
While the footballers bemoaned the lack of support in the stands during the build-up, it seemed that on the day they actually performed better without the pressure of the masses as both teams delivered one of the more entertaining derbies in years.