Pressing Issues: Soweto Derby brings everything to a standstill

2014-09-19 18:45

Ever since Kaizer Motaung led a bunch of rebel players and officials from Pirates to form Kaizer Chiefs (first known as Kaizer XI) in 1970, South Africa has come to a standstill when the Soweto Derby comes around.

This is the day pastors rush through funeral or wedding services so they don’t miss the action.

Even the SA Football Association, whose meetings are notorious for taking the whole day, manage to finish by lunchtime on derby day.

Another signature of this match is that it divides families.

The debate is still raging over who has the most fans between those who swear by the black and white skull and crossbones of the Buccaneers and those who believe the gold and black are superior.

Ticket sales also attest to the fixture’s popularity (the match was sold out in less than four hours last week).

For football connoisseurs, there is also the anticipation that it will be the mother of all matches – because there is no way it can end in a draw.

This being the MTN8 final, there must be a victor on the day.

The tournament is known as Wafa Wafa. The winner smiles all the way to the bank with R8?million and the loser gets the measly participation fee of R800?000 – the same as all teams that reach the quarterfinals and above.

Chiefs and Pirates have dominated the competition since its inception in the early 70s, with Amakhosi bagging it a record 14 times and Pirates nine.

Kermit Erasmus and Lehlohonolo Majoro are red-hot this season so Chiefs’ defence will have their hands full.

Majoro’s situation, having left Chiefs in an unsavoury manner to join the opposition, adds yet more spice to the contest.

Needless to say, coach Vladimir Vermezovic will also want to prove a point against his former club.

On the other side, Stuart Baxter, who is enjoying his second spell at Chiefs, knows very well what winning and losing the

derby means.

There are so many aspects that make this such a mouth-watering encounter.

Chiefs are unbeaten this season going into the match.

But all this will count for naught come Saturday. Performance on the day, when winner takes all, will be the priority.

Then there are the bragging rights that victory in this match gives the winning team’s supporters.

As the momentum has begun to build, the teasing and jeering has begun.

And rest assured, the losing team and their fans on Saturday will be the butt of jokes at least until the next derby comes around.

Chiefs fell short in the Carling Cup and their fans and players will be seeking revenge. But it is not always as easy and straightforward as that.

Whichever club wins on Saturday will have to earn it.

It is a match that has made and broken many a player’s career.

Those long in the tooth will tell you how a young Zacharia “Maria Maria” Lamola stood on top of the ball at the centre of the pitch right in the middle of play to introduce himself to the Chiefs faithful at the former South African soccer mecca, Orlando Stadium.

He went on to be a big star until that fateful day when he scored an own goal.

Some will remind you of how a spindly legged, 16-year-old Jomo “Troublemaker” Sono, introduced himself to “The Ghost” by running rings around Herman “Pele” Blaschke.

And how this led to songs being composed around the incident.

But many a player has flopped on derby day and this has marked the end of their careers.

Where would we be without our beloved Soweto derby?

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