Absa Premiership

Soweto derby bigger than usual

Steve Komphela and Eric Tinkler (Gallo Images)
Steve Komphela and Eric Tinkler (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Every Soweto derby is massive, but there is a feeling that Saturday's PSL clash between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium carries a little more weight than usual. 

Both coaches go into the match under pressure, and both will know that victory over their biggest rivals will inject some much-needed breathing room into their respective seasons. 

Eric Tinkler, in particular, is getting desperate. 

He has been admirably backed by the board every time his future has been questioned, but the statistics tell their own story. 

Pirates are 11th on the log, having amassed an unimpressive 16 points from 14 league encounters. 

Their extended run through to the final of the CAF Confederation Cup has perhaps taken the attention off their poor league form somewhat, but the heat on Tinkler is rising with each failed performance. 

Pirates have amassed just five points from their last five fixtures that included losses to Mamelodi Sundowns and Jomo Cosmos and draws to Platinum Stars and Maritzburg United - results that will never be good enough for Bucs supporters. 

Tinkler's passion for the club is always on display, but the truth is that Pirates haven't been anywhere near as good as this country needs them to be. 

That needs to change quickly if Tinkler is to win the fans over. 

The pressure on Steve Komphela, meanwhile, is different. 

Unlike Pirates, Chiefs have displayed good form in the league this season. 

The problem is that they have drawn too many of their matches and they now sit in fourth spot, eight points behind title favourites Mamelodi Sundowns. 

Having let a 1-0 lead against Platinum Stars slip to a 2-1 defeat this past weekend, Chiefs' title credentials have been questioned once more. 

There is no doubt that the expectation at Chiefs these days is far greater than at Pirates, and Komphela having lost two cup finals already this season - the MTN8 and the Telkom Knockout - has not made his first season in charge any easier. 

To make matters worse, Chiefs lost 3-1 at home to Pirates in the first round of league fixtures back in October. 

It is one of only two league losses for the defending champions this season, indicating their relatively consistent form. 

Komphela has gotten through the first half of the campaign in one piece and Chiefs are still very much alive in the title race, but he needs to win the games that matter in the second half of the campaign.

Cup finals, for example, matter ... and so do Soweto derbies. 

Whichever coach triumphs on Saturday will take a big step towards winning over his club's supporters, and whoever loses will naturally take a step in the opposite direction. That, other than league points, is what there is to play for.

A draw? Well, that won't help anybody ...

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