The Soweto Derby between perennial rivals and neighbours Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates hasn’t delivered in terms of excitement for the past few seasons. While this may be due to both teams’ travails in recent times, there’s also a lot on the line: not just PSL log points, but bragging rights to boot.
The heavyweight clash will once again capture the attention on Saturday, with Pirates lying in third position, one point ahead of Chiefs in fourth spot. Security will be tight and fans are being urged to arrive early at the stadium for the game, which kicks off at 3.30pm, and not to buy fake tickets. Tragically, two supporters died during a stampede at the last Soweto Derby in July at the Carling Black Label Cup.
While, on one hand, the Sea Robbers have a slim advantage on the table, they stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Polokwane City in their last game and continue to have problems getting the ball in the net.
Chiefs, on the other hand, will be buoyed by their sensational win over African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in their last fixture. Coach Steve Komphela received support from an unexpected quarter after the game, when Downs boss Pitso Mosimane backed his “brother” to do the business against Serbian-born coach Milutin Sredojevic on Saturday.
Sredojevic, however, expects his experience in big derbies on the African continent to be a critical factor in the big game and Komphela will have to contend with a major injury headache, as six first-team players will be forced to watch from the sidelines.
Expect experienced goalkeepers Wayne Sandilands and the on-fire Itumeleng Khune to play a key role in deciding the result of a cagey affair.
Chiefs have won 11 matches and Pirates nine, with 22 draws in derby action since 1996. Since Pirates won 3-1 in October 2015, all three league derbies have ended in stalemates.
Who do you think will be the toast of Soweto after the derby?