Orlando Pirates secured all the bragging rights in round one of this season’s Absa Premiership’s Soweto Derby as they beat arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 at the sold-out Calabash built-alike arena, FNB Stadium, on Saturday afternoon.
In a game where both coaches arguably had their best starting line-up on the park, Pirates looked as though they’ll draw first blood as they dominated play in Chiefs’ final third in the opening stages.
However, in a game of football, chances created and not converted count for nothing, and in fact, given the opportunity the opponent will come back to haunt you.
As a result, that’s what Chiefs did as Khama Billiat registered his first derby goal on debut.
Billiat slotted the ball into an empty net following the inability of goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane to safely collect from a Godfrey Walusimbi cross.
That was the wake-up call the home side needed as they went in search of an equaliser with their front men – Justin Shonga, Augustine Mulenga and Vincent Pule – who were quick on transition and had trickery in their feet.
Their persistence paid off as Justin Shonga was rewarded a penalty after being fouled in the box. The Zambian striker took the responsibility, but only for his casual attempt to be easily denied by Itumeleng Khune.
Did that demoralise them though? No.
Soon after, derby debutant Vincent Pule delivered a delightful corner-kick which found Innocent Maela, who beat Khune in his far-post with a glancing header.
Pirates’ transitional play finally yet again became a success as Shonga combined with fellow countryman Mulenga, who set-up Pule to tap-in after Khune had already committed.
The second half started in contrast than the first as Chiefs were the hungrier of the two teams. Amakhosi’s front trio of Billiat, Leonardo Castro and Dumisani Zuma went in search of an equaliser as they interchanged play just outside Pirates’ box, but only for them to be let down by their finishing.
With Chiefs failing to break through on the other end, Shonga yet again failed to capitalise on their defensive errors.
Following a miscommunication between Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Khune, the ball fell in the path of the Shonga but who could balloon his efforts in the stands with the posts wide open.
That marked the end of his contribution into this encounter and he was substituted for Linda Mntambo.
Not too many chances were created after that as both teams had their intentions – to protect their lead or avoid a further embarrassment.