Eric Mathoho receives his marching orders for shoving Abel Mabaso as Ntsikelelo Nyauza applauds the referee’s decision at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix
An angry Orlando Pirates coach, Rhulani Mokwena, hit out at Kaizer Chiefs for exhibiting what he termed “thuggish behaviour” in the Glamour Boys’ 3-2 win in the Soweto derby at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Chiefs let slip a 2-0 lead, allowing Pirates to come back and level matters before getting a late penalty that was scored by Daniel Cardoso who helped the club get maximum points and cement their place at the top of the PSL standings.

The match was entertaining with both clubs going toe to toe. Emotions got the better of players at times and there were skirmishes towards the end that led to the sending off of Eric Mathoho for shoving Abel Mabaso. Earlier in the match, Willard Katsande got away with a yellow card for a reckless tackle on Fortune Makaringe.

That tackle was almost similar to the one Tshegofatso Mabasa made on Lindokuhle Mbatha and got away with it in Pirates’ MTN8 defeat to Highlands Park in August. Mokwena didn’t talk about Mabasa’s tackle that hit Mbatha hard, but when his player was at the receiving end he was very critical of his opponents.

“I hear coach (Ernst) Middendorp say that he doesn’t know what happened with the red card,” Mokwena said.

“I watched it again and it’s not just Mathoho who should have been sent off. That was real thuggish behaviour. It doesn’t belong on the pitch. It was very, very bad football. And it starts with Katsande’s tackle on Fortune Makaringe in the first half, over the top and (a) career-threatening tackle. It was thuggish as well.

“Those are the situations I am talking about. They don’t belong in South African football.

“They shouldn’t be condoned, and we shouldn’t accept that. I’ve got a player bleeding now, with a broken nose, because he was punched in the face. Kaizer Chiefs is good enough to beat us on tactics, on personnel and they are a well-coached team. But they shouldn’t win with people diving like Bernard Parker (who won the penalty). It was an excellent dive. We don’t train boxing.”

Mokwena spent the better part of Saturday’s post-match press conference criticising Chiefs, right next to Middendorp. The two coaches looked awkward sitting next to each other, but neither gave an inch as they both protected themselves and their players.

The under-fire Mokwena was visibly upset and it was evident that he is clearly feeling the pressure with his team having recorded just two wins in their last 10 league games. It’s a statistics that doesn’t make for good reading, especially for a team that promised to challenge for and win honours this season.

“I try my level best to control my emotions,” Mokwena said.

“Normally I invest a lot in reading on emotional intelligence and I try a lot to control my emotions.

“The reality of the story is that there was thuggish behaviour, and you can’t condone that.

“We have moved so much to where Pirates and Chiefs supporters can sit together on the stands. We can’t condone the type of behaviour that’s going to lead to a situation where we have (a) stampede.

“If that’s what we want as South Africa, maybe we haven’t learnt our lesson. I grew up in this country.

“You can slap me, it’s okay and it’s alright. But don’t punch my players.”

Bonginkosi Ndadane