Bafana Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu is set to experience his maiden Scottish Old Firm derby on Saturday.
His club, Rangers, face bitter rivals Celtic at the Ibrox Stadium in a game where Zungu and his teammates will be eager to open a 19-point lead atop the 14-team Scottish Premiership table.
The rivalry between the two giants from Glasgow is deeply embedded in Scottish culture the same way as the Soweto derby is to Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
Zungu, who hails from Duduza township in Ekurhuleni, joined Rangers in October from the now relegated Aminens SC in France.
His arrival came just a few days in the build up to the last Old Firm derby and he was not part of the Rangers match day squad that won 2-0 on October 17.
But since then, the 28-year-old has already featured 10 times across all competitions for Rangers, which is coached by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
In his most recent appearance, Zungu came on as a late match substitute in Rangers’ 2-0 win over St Mirren on Wednesday.
The victory took Rangers to 59 points from 21 games. Celtic are trailing by 16 points but have played three games less than their cross town foes.
Although Zungu has been part of Gerrard’s match-day squads over the last six league fixtures, the Bafana star is yet to play full 90 minutes.
Gerrard, meanwhile, is also looking forward to Saturday’s epic fixture, pointing out that “a quick turnaround to the Old Firm is always good.”
“The quicker it comes the better for me, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a fantastic game, we’re in a good place and I can’t wait for that whistle to go,” he told the club’s website.
Gerrard also hinted that, in terms of the squad to face Celtic, he’s got “some big decisions to make for the weekend but that’s where I want to be.”
“I will pick a team I think can do the job against Celtic. I won’t really go on who scored in the last game or who is in form, I need to pick a team that is going to do the job against Celtic.
“There will be no sentiment, but it will be the team I think can get us the three points,” added the England icon who took over the coaching job at Rangers in June 2018.
Hopefully Zungu did enough in his 10-minute run on Wednesday to potentially push for his first start for Rangers, who remain unbeaten this season.
Scottish pundits are of the view that Saturday’s game could well be a title-decider.
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I will pick a team I think can do the job against Celtic. There will be no sentiment, but it will be the team I think can get us the three points