PSL’s biggest derby

2010-02-20 00:00

IT has been the topic of discussion in factories, taxis and workplaces as well as around the dinner table at various households all week long.

This afternoon the rival fans will discover who will emerge from the final Soweto derby of the season holding the bragging rights, as Orlando Pirates host arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in a Premier Soccer League match-up at Orlando Stadium today.

Pirates have picked up just one win from their four games since league action resumed earlier this month. Their last outing ended in defeat as they lost 2-1 to Maritzburg United, but their coach Ruud Krol believes that, given the importance of the game, pre-derby form does not affect the outcome of this match.

Krol said at a press conference held jointly with Chiefs counterpart Vladimir Vermezovic on Thursday: “Football is an unpredictable sport and as such it is what makes matches such as these great. Derby games are always great to play in because of the history and the rivalry between the teams.”

Despite his team losing to Maritzburg, Krol is still confident that they can defeat their Soweto rivals this afternoon.

“We might have lost to Maritzburg on Wednesday evening. This is a different match, it is a derby and everything changes for a derby game.”

Chiefs were leading Black Aces when their Wednesday evening match was halted after half-an-hour and although they will be unhappy that the match was not completed, according to Chiefs defender Thomas Sweswe they are now concentrating on knocking over their arch-rivals.

“I used to watch derby matches on TV in Zimbabwe and was fortunate enough to play in the last one, which I thoroughly enjoyed as the atmosphere was fantastic and the game was very exciting and fast-paced,” Sweswe said.

“Since I joined Chiefs I have got a better understanding of just how important winning this game is to the fans. That is what we want to do on Saturday: win the match.”

Sweswe believes that there is a bigger picture for Chiefs, as winning this game could give them the opportunity to play Champions League football next season.

“With Sundowns dropping points in front of us, there is an opportunity for us to still finish the season in second place,” he said.

“If we manage to beat Pirates, Free State Stars and hold on for the remainder of the game that still has to be replayed against Aces, we can achieve a second-place finish and qualify for the African Champions League.”

Pirates captain Lehlehonolo Seema said pride will be at stake this afternoon.

“We know the derby comes with a lot of pressure, but we are very excited because it’s a very big game for the players and our supporters,” Seema told his club’s website.

He added: “We acknowledge Chiefs are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and victory over Pirates will be the cherry on top. But they must be warned … We are not a charitable organisation and therefore we will not be donating any points, as pride above anything else is at stake.”

Key players on either side are goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, midfielders Siphiwe Tshabalala and Tinashe Nengomasha, and striker Knowledge Musona for Chiefs; and ’keeper Moeneeb Josephs, defender Lucas Thwala, midfielder Isaac Chansa and striker Thulasizwe Mbuyane for Pirates.

The teams played to a goalless draw when they met back in November. Pirates beat Chiefs twice last season and that is something the Amakhosi will be hoping to avoid as they push for a top-three finish.

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