Orlando Pirates and arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs both aim to reduce the gap enjoyed by pacesetters and DSTV Premiership defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns when the two teams clash in the Soweto derby on Saturday. Chiefs and Pirates are third and fourth on the log respectively, but they need a miracle to catch Sundowns. But a runner-up finish has some incentive – a place in next season’s CAF Champions League.
Very little separates the two Soweto rivals going into this weekend’s clash at the Orlando Stadium. After losing four derbies in a row against Pirates, Chiefs managed to bounce back, winning the last two encounters. The last three meetings between the two sides produced six goals. No one wants to be on the losing side in a Soweto derby. Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has a proud record, he’s unbeaten against Pirates in seven Premiership matches.
“You’ve got to try and put form that is best on the day, the team that wins the derby is usually the team that play normal not the team that plays outstanding. The losers of the derby are usually anxious, they are usually worried and look at the clock, they are usually overhyped and get red cards and making bad decisions that lose the game so the team that plays normally is usually the team that wins the game,” says Baxter.
Pirates have shown good form in the Confederations Cup but the same cannot be said about their domestic form. The team has played 11 draws in 21 matches so far this season.
“They only have the league to worry about just take January, they have played three matches so far – we have played six matches so far but we have to be there, we have to take this game like any other game. Yes, it’s your direct rival that is fighting for this champions’ league spot. We definitely want that, but it’s definitely not a game that you play not to lose, definitely a match that winning the game will give you that advantage, winning the game will put you up there in second spot already and that is what we aiming for,” says Orlando Pirates co-coach Fadlu Davids.
The players are well aware that pride will always be at stake when the two Soweto giants clash.
“For us the senior guys, we must try and help the younger boys and make them understand how big this badge is, and what it means you know, and that you cannot take it lightly because you represent so many people you know in this country” says Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Lebogang Manyama,
Amakhosi should be wary of Bucs’ free-scoring midfield-cum-defender, Bandile Shandu. He’s the team’s leading goal scorer in the CAF Confederation Cup.
“For me it’s all about the team individual comes later I’m just going to work, try and assist the team where I can and scoring will be just a bonus but just to make sure that I do my job I work to my full potential and my ability and make sure that we get the result on Saturday and scoring will come later. If I do I do, if I don’t as long as the team produces the three points I’m more than happy,” says Shandu.
And as usual, expectations are high amongst the supporters.
“The past results count for nothing when it comes to the derby, we won and Pirates drew. So it’s going to be a very good game – let’s hope that our coach Stuart Baxter is not going to lose the game especially in the dressing room, whereby you put in a lot of defenders,” a supporter says.
“They must just make sure that they put the right team, the right players on that day. I don’t think they will be able to disappoint the Orlando Pirates fans,” another supporter elaborates.
The match kicks off at half-past three and it will be broadcast live on SABC 1.