/ 24 November 2007

Pirates, Chiefs finish on level score

The sultry Durban weather did not deter Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs from entertaining a capacity crowd with four fantastic goals in a pulsating Premier Soccer League match at the Absa Stadium on Saturday.

Chiefs striker Mabhudi Khanyeza scored one of the quickest goals, in 17 seconds, to be seen in South Africa. Pirates’ 20-year-old forward Excellent Walaza netted just after the half-hour mark and then gave his team the lead in the 52nd minute. Arthur Zwane salvaged a point for Chiefs seven minutes later with a close-range header.

Spurred on by the full house, Chiefs set the tone with an early strike. Shaun Bartlett’s throw-in to Khanyeza was controlled well on the chest before the striker turned and shot home to the surprise of Senzo Meyiwa.

Chiefs held their lead for 33 minutes as Pirates pressed hard to find the back of the net. Teko Modise, Pirates’ lively midfielder, was closely watched by Thabo Mooki in midfield and the South African player did little to assist his teammates.

Nevertheless, Bennet Chenene and Walaza combined well and their pace had Chiefs on the back foot. With the Amakhosi resorting to defence only, Pirates finally got the breakthrough when Chenene whipped in a delightful cross that Walaza met perfectly and headed in beyond the reach of Itumeleng Khune.

Earlier on, Bucs defender Lucky Lekgwathi tested Khune with a long-range effort bound for goal, but the ‘keeper got behind the ball to deny him.

Pirates’ pacy midfielders and strikers got the better of Chiefs, who packed their defence as the half drew to a close.

Bartlett should have put Chiefs in the lead after a raking pass from David Obua found the former Bafana Bafana striker in space. Despite his vast experience, Bartlett pulled the shot wide and failed to test Meyiwa, the last player to beat.

As Bartlett further faded from the game, Modise worked his way into the match. The talented play-maker seemed unmarked wherever he popped up as Mooki and company struggled to keep up with his pace and energy.

A Modise pass to Paulos Masehe inadvertently set up a goal for Walaza, who now has six goals to his name.

Khune sped off his line to stop Masehe’s shot, but the rebound fell perfectly for Walaza who side-footed the ball home with Chiefs’ defenders hopelessly watching. It seemed a Pirates win was on the cards, but veteran winger Zwane popped up at the right place to make the score 2-2.

The Bucs defence failed to clear a ball played into their area and with them being rushed to get rid of the ball, Zwane nodded home from inside the small box.

Modise’s running was too much for Chiefs, who allowed the number 11 to run through at will, but with the humidity taking its toll on all, he was not able to help his team score again.

The stage was set, though, for him to drive home a free kick in the final seconds of the match, but his effort rebounded off the wall and South Africa’s biggest clubs finished their derby-by-the-sea all square. — Sapa