Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will be looking at their star players to stand up and be counted in what is the biggest game on the South African football calendar, the Soweto Derby. FourFourTwo SA writer DEAN WORKMAN explores the five players who could star for the Buccaneers.
In a game of such magnitude, where chances will be at a premium and the pressure of playing in front of a packed out FNB Stadium will undoubtedly be weighing on the players. In such a cauldron of adrenaline Milutin Sredojevic will be hoping that his star men can raise their hand and make the difference against Chiefs on Saturday.
1) Vincent Pule
After making the move from Bidvest Wits in the off season, Pule has hit the ground running in the black and white.
The winger has undoubtedly been the Buccaneers’ star man this season scoring four goals and providing two assists in his eleven games across all competitions. The tricky winger’s standout performance earned him his first call up to the Bafana Bafana side.
Pule scored the winner against Baroka in the Telkom Knockout last-16 clash last weekend after coming off the bench and he will be hoping to replicate his goal scoring form in his very first Soweto derby.
It will be interesting to note how the Amakhosi fans react to Pule on Saturday, given that he had reportedly agreed terms with the Naturena based outfit, before shocking the local football fraternity with his move to Pirates.
— Orlando Pirates FC (@orlandopirates) October 20, 2018
2) Happy Jele
The Orlando Pirates captain and most senior player in the Pirates team will have to lead from the front if his side are going to walk away with the bragging rights on Saturday.
Not only will Sredojevic rely on his leadership and experience, but Jele will be tasked with organising the backline and of course keeping the mercurial Khama Billiat quiet, should he play.
3) Musa Nyatama
Nyatama’s impact on this Pirates side last season was clearly evident last season, but became even more evident when upon the midfielder being sidelined due to injury. Needless to say, coach Micho’s side struggled in his absence.
Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena hailed the Nyatama as the best deep-lying playmaker in the country, while pointing out his ability to control and dictate the pace of the game as his biggest quality ahead of the Soweto derby.
Mokwena admitted that they have missed the former Bloemfontein Celtic man and will undoubtedly be hoping that Nyatama will be back to his best to help the Sea Robbers down their arch rivals.
4) Justin Shonga
The Zambian forward may have only scored once so far this season but his pace and energy will undoubtedly offer a major threat to a Chiefs defence which has been breached on a number of occasions this season.
The 21-year-old is still a raw talent but with the likes of Pule and Augustine Mulenga likely to partner him in the forward areas, Shonga could prove effective against a shaky Chiefs backline.
The forward has also been in fine scoring form for the Zambian national team scoring twice for Chipolopolo in the last international break and will be hoping to continue his scoring form against the Amakhosi.
Shonga has already got one derby goal to his name, having netted in Pirates 3-1 victory last season.
“So we are looking forward to getting the best out of him and I wish the time will come where we shall sing a song , ‘Justin Shonga is on fire!'”- Micho pic.twitter.com/eTHMp98ik1
— @BucsUpdates_ (@BucsUpdates_) October 19, 2018
5) Xola Mlambo
The man affectionately know as Ten-Ten has made an impressive start to life as a Buccaneer after making the switch from Bidvest Wits in January 2018.
After having the back end of last season to settle into the club, Mlambo has ran the show for Pirates from the middle of the park showcasing his skills and passing ability as he has racked up four assists in his twelve games across all competitions this season.
Sredojevic will be hoping the Mlambo will combine well with his midfield partners as Pirates will look to stamp their possession based game on the derby this weekend.
The battle between midfielders Mlambo and Siphelele Ntshangase on Saturday will be one of the most talked about duals on the pitch at the FNB Stadium.
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