We aren't thugs, says Chiefs boss after heated Soweto derby

Orlando Pirates coach Rhulani Mokowena after the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Orlando Pirates coach Rhulani Mokowena after the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Frennie Shivambu/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp dismissed his Orlando Pirates counterpart Rulani Mokwena’s accusations that Amakhosi displayed “thuggish behaviour” in their 3-2 Absa Premiership Soweto derby at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium on Saturday.

During a heated post-match press conference, Mokwena levelled some serious accusations at Chiefs. These related to challenges during the match, Eric Mathoho’s dismissal after an injury-time scuffle involving both sets of players and a foul on Bernard Parker, which led to Daniel Cardoso’s 84th-minute winning penalty.

“I have a good education and my parents told me at a certain time, 'Don’t talk; just show you are a grown up’,” Middendorp said.

“One-against-one belongs to soccer. That is why, over decades, the institution of Fifa introduced yellow cards, fouls, penalties, all these things.

“I think Fortune Makaringe and Willard Katsande was a quite heavy duel. I spoke to Mathoho and he said that he really was on his way to protect his own players, to protect the group.

“If it is a foul in the penalty area, what should the referee do? Should he go first to the opposition coach and ask, ‘Can I give it?’

“And something like this, to use the word you ask in your question [thuggish], I don’t think it’s the way it works.

“There were a number of goalscoring opportunities on both sides. There were a number of mistakes. And if I’m talking about a game of mistakes then I’m talking about the defending and about the attacking.

“And will you now blame another team that they made less mistakes, that they had fewer errors?” he asked.

Middendorp added: “We see it all over the world. You will see it probably in Liverpool against Manchester City tomorrow, in Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund. That’s the normal way, in particular in a derby.

“Let’s not say we [Chiefs] want to die in politeness. We had a lot of injuries last year, because we went halfhearted into the duels.

“Soccer is the number of duels you make, the less mistakes you make and then you get the result. And that’s what we do week in, week out.

“If somebody loves it, likes it or supports it, sorry, it’s not a concern for me.”

In the post-match conference, Mokwena said it was not just Mathoho who should have been sent off in the scuffle that was started by Pirates' Gabadinho Mhango.

He said a tackle by Katsande on Makaringe was career-threatening. He made no mention of a similar challenge by Thembinkosi Lorch on Khama Billiat that went unpunished during last week’s Telkom Knockout derby in Durban.

Mokwena also mentioned a player having a broken nose after being punched in the face. TV replays show Mathoho being pushed by Pirates’ Abel Mabaso, before he pushes the Pirates player back.

There appeared to be contact and a trip by Mako on Parker for the penalty, which Mokwena referred to as Parker “finding a swimming pool”.

Middendorp’s tone did not help matters. Mostly he kept his calm in the face of an onslaught in the media briefing, winning not just on the field, but in the press conference hall too.

However, the Chiefs coach throwing up his arms and shouting in celebration in Mokwena’s direction at the final whistle was antagonistic and his “Picasso” comments during the week were unnecessary.

Between Mokwena, Middendorp and Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, with his comments aimed at Middendorp three weeks ago, the PSL has become something of a circus of childishness when it comes to some of its coaches. .

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