This Soweto Derby against arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs wasn’t the necessary proof that the Buccaneers will be alright, but the game swung in their favour as soon as Thamsanqa Gabuza, under a lot of criticism for his recent dip in form, finally scored to cancel out Willard Katsande’s first-half goal.
Pirates were suddenly favourites to grab maximum points from this Absa Premiership encounter.
Until the hour mark, Pirates had started the match the same way you would expect a team struggling on and off the pitch to kick-off.
Ahead of the derby, club chairman Irvin Khoza was asked if he would be showing coach Eric Tinkler the door, the players and the technical team had met to discuss their long-running slump, and Kermit Erasmus had decided enough was enough and found a new home – in the French Ligue 1 with Rennes.
The reaction, barring the decision to sell Erasmus – a move that is still quite fascinating given he had only asked to go to Europe for a family emergency – was positive.
Khoza said he would not fix what is clearly broken, so Tinkler will stay.
The players came from a goal down to draw level and walk away feeling it was a game they should have won, as ill-tempered as it turned out to be.
But maybe it’s the nature of the Soweto Derby.
Maybe the pep talks should have been put on the back burner until such time Pirates are preparing to face less intimidating opponents and prove that they can rise to the occasion, especially with their backs against the wall.
It was yet another draw, one that will have those who have been arguing that this “occasion” has lost its spark, grinning.
But Tinkler was the winner.
For his counterpart, Steve Komphela, this will feel like a kick in the teeth.
It’s their eighth draw in 16 matches and comes on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Platinum Stars last week.
Those who feel this job is too big for the former Bafana Bafana skipper will also be grinning.
It was simply a game of two halves, to borrow from the typical cliché used by pundits, coaches and players when a result hasn’t gone their way.
Katsande scoring was perhaps an indication that we were in for a rather mild afternoon watching these two teams play. He was an unlikely goal-scorer, and Amakhosi have had plenty of those this season.
Camaldine Abraw, the man Chiefs would have desperately looked to for goals, was closely watched by a makeshift Pirates defender in Edwin Gyimah.
And it was no surprise that the Togolese forward had to make way for Siphelele Mthembu later in the match as Komphela searched for a winner.
The Chiefs coach was defensive this week in his assessment of the crisis up front.
He chose his words carefully, but he would be pulling his hair out – if he had any – in private.
If Amakhosi can’t get their strikers firing, then they might as well surrender the league title to either free-scoring Mamelodi Sundowns or Bidvest Wits, another side with an abundance of goal poachers this season.
It might have been another drab draw, but Komphela was the loser.
– The Sunday Independent
Original source: Komphela the loser in drab draw