JOHANNESBURG – They enjoyed a decent spell within the opening 15 minutes or so and got a goal out of it, but when the same pressure was put on Kaizer Chiefs by their rivals Orlando Pirates moments later, they collapsed to a 2-1 defeat.
Khama Billiat, who was labelled this week as a Pirates reject by the Buccaneers' assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena, benefited from a howler by goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane as Amakhosi broke the early deadlock in this Absa Premiership Soweto Derby.
In those moments, it looked as though Chiefs would further build from having the upper hand as a result of their early lead, but when the Buccaneers settled into the game this fixture was turned on its head.
Pirates were awarded a penalty a little later in the second half when striker Augustine Mulenga appeared to have been fouled by defender Siyabonga Ngezana, and although a soft touch, the referee deemed it enough to point to the spot-kick.
As the designated penalty-taker, Justin Shonga stepped up to try and beat Itumeleng Khune, but the goalkeeper easily collected a poor attempt for a striker who’s been red-hot for his country Zambia, but struggling to replicate that same form in a Pirates jersey.
He would almost immediately redeem himself when his cross – from a corner kick – was sent into the box in search of a teammate and found left back Innocent Maela, who finally managed to beat Khune for the equaliser with a well-taken header.
The more Pirates pushed, the more Chiefs seemed to fall apart, particularly in defence where Ngezana and Mario Booysen were operating as the centreback pairing.
Another one of the Pirates assistant coach’s stinging remarks earlier in the week was that Amakhosi have lacked the organisational structure since the departure of Steve Komphela, who was replaced by Giovanni Solinas at the start of the season.
There was plenty of evidence that this may well be true.
Booysen was responsible for the second goal, giving the ball away in a danger zone and allowing Shonga to quickly send a defence-splitting pass to Mulenga, who in turn picked out Vincent Pule for what was eventually the winning strike around the half-hour mark.
The second half was a bit of a tepid affair, reminiscent of previous derbies that have ended in goalless draws.
Pirates, who were the leading outfit, took their foot off the pedal and decided to keep possession, even though Chiefs were lacking ideas and there for the taking if there were questions asked.
The victory keeps them in second place behind league leaders Wits, while Chiefs have now gone three games without a win, leaving questions as to whether Solinas really does have the tactical expertise to break the three-year trophy drought at Naturena.