Orlando Pirates interim coach Rhulani Mokwena during the Absa Premiership match between Highlands Park and Orlando Pirates at Makhulong Stadium on October 29 2019 in Johannesburg. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEFTY SHIVAMBU
Orlando Pirates interim coach Rhulani Mokwena during the Absa Premiership match between Highlands Park and Orlando Pirates at Makhulong Stadium on October 29 2019 in Johannesburg. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ LEFTY SHIVAMBU

Fortune favours the brave‚ and on balance of chances missed recently‚ Orlando Pirates got the rub of the green with their offside goal against Highlands Park on Tuesday night‚ coach Rulani Mokwena says.

Pirates’ 1-0  Premiership victory at Makhulong Stadium came thanks to Tshegofatso Mabasa’s 80th-minute strike‚ when the striker was at least a metre offside in collecting Linda Mntambo’s pass.

Mokwena was reluctant to comment on the match officiating blunder that led to his team’s winner‚ saying he had not seen the replay. The Pirates coach’s position on the pitchside bench‚ though‚ gave him a front-row seat view of the goal and how it was scored.

“No comment. I haven’t seen it yet‚” Mokwena said, adding “I think things even themselves out at the end of the season.”

Told that the TV replays showed the goal was offside‚ Mokwena said: “I wouldn’t comment on the nature of the goal. Look‚ in the history of the PSL‚ I think I was reading in one of the publications‚ we have had a record of 32 shots in 90 minutes and we didn’t even score a goal [in an unspecified game this season].

“So sometimes‚ like I say‚ things even themselves out‚ and the rub of the green falls on your side. Fortune favours the brave‚ and credit to the players for being on the receiving end of that.”

The victory came at a fortuitous time for Pirates. They now face two Soweto derbies against Kaizer Chiefs in the space of a week. Bucs would not have wanted to enter that programme on the back of poor form that saw Mokwena go to just two victories‚ before beating Highlands‚ in his nine matches since the departure of Milutin Sredojevic as head coach earlier this season.

Pirates’ first derby is their Telkom Knockout quarterfinal against Chiefs at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday. They then meet Maritzburg United in the league at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday‚ before next Saturday’s (November 9) league derby at FNB Stadium.

Meanwhile  Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp is exuding a calmer demeanour these days and has seemingly ditched the hot-tempered style that was his hallmark for years. The German mentor’s temper tantrums are well documented but he seems transformed this season.

Middendorp has maintained his cool even when provoked by outspoken rivals such as  Mamelodi Sundowns’ Pitso Mosimane and Benni McCarthy of Cape Town City.

The Chiefs coach revealed that the few months he spent in Thailand before Amakhosi asked him to return to SA to replace Italian Giovanni Solinas in December 2018, laid the foundation for his change of demeanour.

“In the culture of Thailand there’s no conflict‚” he said. “It’s like they don’t allow anybody to lose face.”

The new outlook has certainly helped Middendorp navigate the difficulties of coaching a big club such as Chiefs. He started his tenure on the back foot last season when the club failed to finish in the top eight and lost to lower-tier TS Galaxy in the Nedbank Cup final in May.

The coach has turned things around since then and is leading a revival at Naturena that has taken Chiefs to the premiership summit.