That it was possible Orlando Pirates could have hit Kaizer Chiefs, a side with the best defensive record in the Absa Premiership this season, for six tells a story of a Soweto Derby that has more than redeemed itself.
Chiefs had their share of chances, but the Buccaneers were much more convincing and more of a serious threat in their 3-1 victory at FNB Stadium on Saturday, with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune working tirelessly to deny the rivals walking this encounter and embarrassing the Glamour Boys.
To put just how entertaining this rivalry was here at the Calabash into perspective: six of the last eight matches between these two sides ended in draws, forgettable draws.
A stalemate here would have been applauded.
Pirates and Chiefs left it all on the pitch. Maybe the losing team didn’t quite follow coach Steve Komphela’s tactics to the exact detail, although their equaliser, scored by striker Leonardo Castro to cancel out Thembinkosi Lorch’s opener, was straight from the training ground.
The Buccaneers were the better side by some distance.
As much as form is said to count for nothing ahead of the Soweto Derby, Pirates arrived here the confident of the two teams and under less pressure.
Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic, their coach, had puzzled journalists earlier in the week by saying their mandate was not to win the Premier League despite being in second place – four points behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns at the time.
Reporters, being the skeptics that they are, believed the coach’s words to be mind games, especially considering they had hammered Chippa United 4-2 last weekend.
So, true to form, Pirates were rampant against their rivals, denting Amakhosi’s title hopes and finding exposing what has, all along, been the best defence in the league.
It all started with Lorch breaking the deadlock early in the first half, benefitting from a poor Willard Katsande (quite out of character) clearance to take the ball and eliminate three Chiefs defenders and put the ball past keeper Khune.
Castro equalised minutes later, but even then Pirates were still enjoying the better chances, while the Pirates rearguard was hardly forced into any errors.
Not long after the second half had kicked off, in fact it was barely a minute into it, substitute Luvuyo Memela gave the Buccaneers the lead yet again with virtually his first touch.
Another sublime move: Pirates win the ball in midfield, quickly pressing flat-footed Chiefs and Musa Nyatama picking out an unmarked Memela to give Khune no chance.
Komphela had no response – his own replacements in Gustavo Paez, Hendrick Ekstein and Bernard Parker for Ryan Moon, Wiseman Meyiwa and Siyabonga Ngezana actually weakening the team.
Memela scored his second and the Buccaneers’ third of the afternoon much later on as he picked pockets in between Daniel Cardoso and Ngezana (before he was subbed off), waited and pounced on Justin Shonga’s low cross.
Pirates could have well and truly scored a couple more had it not been for Khune. Memela had returned to haunt the Chiefs goalkeeper, but he was heroic is some ways, denying him and later keeping out Shonga’s attempt in the Amakhosi box – Lorch, scorer of the first goal, was unlucky to see his follow up header going just wide.
There had been concerns from Pirates fans when the starting line-up was released that they would be the ones struggling to keep the ball out of their net when it was Siyabonga Mpontshane and not Jackson Mabokgwane who was named in the start in the starting line-up. But the one-time Bafana keeper, apart from being beaten by Castro in the first half, had a game to remember. He was hardly tested, but was alert when called on.
Pirates remained four points behind Sundowns, who thumped AmaZulu 3-1 a day earlier, with seven games to go.
But Chiefs will fear that their titles hopes now hang by the thinnest of threads. And they would have loved to have been the winner in this revival of the Soweto Derby.