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Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates are way behind the best in South Africa and the continent

Johannesburg – Kaizer Chiefs and arch rivals Orlando Pirates have a long way to go before they can rule South Africa, let alone the continent.

The Soweto derby is regarded as the premium sporting event in SA, and as such, the football fraternity, including neutrals, look forward to a spectacle whenever the match is on.

Yet the second such derby of the season failed to satisfy the appetite of millions on Saturday as Chiefs won the game for the fifth time in a row courtesy of a freak own goal by Olisa Ndah.

Sure, the result went a long way in appeasing Chiefs fans, whose majority had lost faith in coach Arthur Zwane heading into the clash due to the team’s inconsistency.

And it also showcased Pirates’ lack of creativity and failure to plot against Chiefs as they once again failed to live up to the favourite’s tag as all the honours went to the other side of Soweto.

But there was more to the game than just the result. Both Chiefs and Pirates proved that they are not ready to halt Mamelodi Sundowns’ dominance in SA nor compete among the best in Africa.

Sundowns, who are Premiership champions in waiting for a record sixth time in a row, in fact proved why they are on another level as they went toe to toe with Al Ahly in the Caf Champions League group stage later in the day.

That match, where Sundowns drew 2-2 to maintain top spot in Group B, was deemed a ‘palate cleanser’ by some football pundits considering the damp squib dished out in the Soweto derby.

And after failing to go head on against each other, Chiefs and Pirates also showed that they are not ready to play in the Champions League next season despite aiming for a runners-up finish in the league.

African football is a jungle. The sorts where even the basics such as finding proper hospitality away from home becomes a massive struggle due to the opposition’s mind games.

So how can Chiefs or Pirates go in the Champions League to win it when it can’t put up a fierce battle against each other in front of a soldout crowd on familiar grounds?

Neither team were at their best on Saturday, so both Chiefs and Pirates still need to improve.

Yes Amakhosi won, but the result doesn’t mean they are suddenly a good team. It could be that luck continued to be on their side or they simply prepare well for the clash, having won the last five against Pirates.

This is the same Chiefs team that lost matches they were expected to win and they have only one more game (nine) than they have lost in the league (eight).

Pirates, meanwhile, are not at their best either. If they truly believe in the derby pre-match mantra of “playing the game, and not the occasion”, how hard can it be to plot against one team twice?

The fact that coach Jose Riveiro was suspended for the game, as he was sitting with the stands while his assistants Sergio Almenara and Mandla Ncikazi carried out the coaching, was honestly no excuse.

He and his two assistants trained the team, so it’s fair to believe that whatever that they put in at training during the build-up is what they implemented on Saturday.

With that said, nothing should stop either team from fighting for that runners-up spot in the league. They should aim to prove in their remaining games of the season that they will be ready to take the battle to their African counterparts should their bid come to fruition.

It might, however, boost the image of South African football if the two teams depended less on historical hype and begin to match the fan commotion at FNB Stadium with consistently good displays domestically and on the continent.

Source: iol.co.za