‘History means nothing in derby’

2010-12-01 00:00

KAIZER Chiefs defender Thomas Sweswe has encouraged his team-mates to ignore history when Amakhosi meet Orlando Pirates in Saturday night’s Soweto Derby Telkom Knockout final at FNB Stadium.

In what will be one of the biggest cup finals in recent South African history, the country’s two most popular teams will square up in front of a packed FNB in the highest-profile match there since the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands on July 11.

If history is to be taken into account, then Chiefs might consider themselves favourites. Amakhosi have won the Telkom seven times since the modern-day inception of the tournament in 1992.

Chiefs are also the defending champions in the competition. If they win on Saturday they will become the first team ever to be crowned Telkom champions twice in a year as the 2009/10 competition, when Amakhosi beat Ajax Cape Town 2-1 in the final, was moved forward due to the staging of the World Cup.

Pirates, in turn, have yet to win the Telkom. They reached the final two seasons ago, losing 2-1 to Ajax at Chatsworth Stadium.

Just a fortnight ago, the Buccaneers went into a league derby against Chiefs almost everybody’s favourites and were destroyed 3-1 by an Amakhosi side hitting some of their best form of an already promising season.

Now, thanks to that victory and to their past record in the competition, the pundits appear to be favouring Vladimir Vermezovic’s men in gold and black to dominate the skull-and-crossbones side of Ruud Krol again on Saturday.

It’s been a pretty rapid turnaround and Chiefs would do well to take as little notice as possible of talk of being favourites for the notoriously unpredictable Soweto Derby … just ask Pirates.

Chiefs’ Zimbabwean central defender Sweswe said his side need to put aside their successful history in the Telkom and concentrate on Saturday’s monstrous game.

“We want to defend our title and everything else does not matter to us. People have been saying that Pirates have never won this competition, which could help us,” Sweswe said.

“The thing is the historical facts don’t play the game, we [the players] do and we have to go out there and be composed and implement our gameplan effectively.”

With this being the fourth Soweto Derby this season (including the pre-season Telkom Charity Cup), Sweswe said Chiefs now have a good idea what to expect from Pirates.

“The game will be played at a high tempo. Pirates are not a team who are going to sit back and wait for us to come at them,” the defender said.

Bucs captain Lucky Lekgwathi agreed that past results mean little going into the derby, and warned his team-mates not to read too much into Chiefs’ 3-2league defeat at home to newly-promoted Vasco Da Gama on the weekend.

“There’s so much at stake for the team, management and the Ghost [Pirates supporters], especially after what Chiefs did to us in the league two weeks ago,” Lekgwathi said.

“We are the MTN8 champions and Chiefs are the Telkom Knockout defending champions, so it won’t be an easy match for both teams. Chiefs won’t give away their trophy without a fight, more especially against Pirates. But we are ready for war.”

Chiefs striker Kaizer Motaung Junior returned to training from injury on Monday and is expected to be fit for the final.

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