Derby: Selection dilemma ahead for coaches

2014-11-30 15:00

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The postponement of the Soweto Derby due to the untimely death of Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa has left the Orlando Pirates boss Vladimir Vermezovic and Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter with tough selection calls.

With Absa Premiership engagements ahead of Saturday’s titanic clash, Vermezovic and Baxter will have to be careful about the teams they put out. Both sides have players who are on three yellow cards – one more booking and they will be watching the crunch encounter from the stands.

It’s certainly a tricky decision if you consider the players involved.

If Pirates playmaker Daine Klate finds himself in the referee’s book against Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium on Tuesday, he can kiss his hopes of appearing in the derby goodbye.

Thabo Qalinge is also on three yellows, but the 23-year-old midfielder is out injured, leaving Klate as Vermezovic’s sole selection headache. Better news for the Serb mastermind is that defender Happy Jele is back in contention after serving a one-match suspension. He had missed the goalless draw with University of Pretoria on Wednesday.

Chiefs are in the same predicament ahead of their clash against Bidvest Wits at the Bidvest Stadium, also on Wednesday.

Key players George Maluleka, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Tsepo Masilela are a booking away from suspension.

It was evident that Chiefs missed the services of the suspended Reneilwe Letsholonyane during their goalless draw with Polokwane City on Tuesday. The leaders failed to score for the first time in the league this season.

After two successive draws, the pressure is on Baxter to get three points and Wits are no pushovers.

Gavin Hunt’s Wits are also looking to close the gap at the top. His side is 10 points adrift of the log leaders.

Masilela has been outstanding for Chiefs this season, with the veteran defender making telling contributions to the team’s 12-game unbeaten run in the league.

The same can be said about Maluleka, who is back in the side after recovering from a knee injury. After missing the start of the season, Tshabalala has also been in good form for Amakhosi lately.

The trio would be sorely missed if they were to be suspended ahead of the big game.

This will be the second derby in the space of two months, after Chiefs beat their bitter rivals in the final of the MTN8 Cup at the end of September.

Pirates will be desperate not to lose two in a row to the men from Naturena.

Tickets for this rescheduled fixture are sold out and supporters who have missed out have been advised to stay at home.

»?According to Pirates, park-and-ride services will not be operational on Saturday. However, supporters can purchase tickets to park at Expo Centre and Shareworld from Computicket.

Facts

Soweto Derby

Bitter rivalry

From the onset, the Soweto Derby was a bitter rivalry as Kaizer Chiefs, who started life as Kaizer’s XI, was formed by former Orlando Pirates star Kaizer Motaung with a number of “rebel” players and officials.

Star players

The clubs have, over the years, managed to attract some serious talent, which resulted in fierce competition on the field. Among the intense individual rivalries that added spice to derby clashes over the years were Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba vs Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala, Percy “Chippa” Moloi vs Kaizer Motaung, Jomo Sono vs Patrick “Ace” Ntsoelengoe, Teboho Moloi vs Doctor Khumalo and Senzo Meyiwa vs Itumeleng Khune.

Top officials:The two clubs have also had the good fortune of having competent, flamboyant and streetwise officials, such as Jimmy Sojane, John Mabaso, Sipho “Sixty” Mali, Thabo Malia, Mzwandile Malgas, Irvin “The Iron Duke” Khoza (Pirates), Ewert “The Lip” Nene, China Ngema, Gilbert Sekhabi, Clarence Mlokoti and Kaizer Motaung (Chiefs).

Trophies:

In the early Seventies, the two clubs contested almost every final. They have continued to be the biggest names in South African soccer, but titles have been somewhat harder to come by. Pirates’ longest title drought stretched between 1973 (a year in which they won all five trophies on offer) and 1994. After romping to the 1992 league title, Chiefs had to wait until the 2003-2004 season for their next one. They successfully defended their league crown, but their next title triumph would only come in 2012-2013.

Fixtures

How the teams line up

Tuesday:

Orlando Pirates vs Maritzburg United (FNB Stadium, 7.30pm);

AmaZulu vs University of Pretoria (Princess Magogo Stadium, 7.30pm)

Wednesday:

Free State Stars vs Bloemfontein Celtic (Charles Mopeli Stadium, 6pm); Mamelodi Sundowns vs SuperSport United (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 7.30pm); Moroka Swallows vs Ajax Cape Town (Dobsonville Stadium, 7.30pm); Bidvest Wits vs Kaizer Chiefs (Bidvest Stadium, 7.30pm); Polokwane City vs Platinum Stars (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium, 7.30pm); Chippa United vs Black Aces (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 7.30pm)

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