Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will yet again do battle in the Soweto derby this weekend. This time, however, there is a spot in the Telkom Knockout final at stake and a chance to end either one of the club’s trophy droughts. SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN has picked out five reasons why Chiefs will book a spot in the final.
Chiefs last won silverware under Stuart Baxter in the 2014/15 campaign, where they picked up both the Absa Premiership and the MTN8. However, the giants of South African football have since gone on a three-and-a-half season trophy drought, which is ultimately unacceptable in the eyes of the Amakhosi faithful.
After Steve Komphela showed his inability to deliver silverware, the Chiefs fans quickly turned on him and it finally cost him his job. Now, current coach Giovanni Solinas will be looking to avoid a similar fate.
Pirates have also had several disappointments since picking up the Nedbank Cup last in the 2013/14 campaign, but after a number of managerial changes, the Sea Robbers finally look to be on the right path under Milutin Sredojevic and his technical team.
With a spot in the TKO final up for grabs, and of course the chance to decisively end their respective trophy droughts, a tight battle is expected between the Soweto giants.
Here are five reasons why Chiefs may just edge this one:
1) Solinas’ job could be on the line
The Italian coach has had an indifferent start at Naturena, struggling in both the league and cup competitions. The team, however, bounced back with Solinas winning the Absa Premiership Coach of the Month for September.
They then failed to win a league game in October, including the 2-1 loss against their Soweto rivals, which has seen the pressure mount on Solinas.
It has been rumoured that his job could be on the line, with former coach Mushin Ertugral now available after walking away from Cape Town City.
This pressure could inspire both the coach and his players to a much-needed win over their fiercest rivals.
2) Returning stars to boost Chiefs
In the last derby at the end of October, Chiefs were plagued by numerous injury concerns. Lebogang Manyama missed out, but Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro recovered in time for the clash.
However, Castro looked sluggish and clearly lacked match fitness, while Billiat had to be substituted before the final whistle.
This Saturday will be a different story though, with Castro back to full fitness, Billiat raring to go after playing for Zimbabwe in the international break and Manyama expected to return after recovering from a car crash.
If Chiefs can field all three on Saturday, Pirates will certainly have a tough task to keep them subdued.
3) International break helps Chiefs
After the last international break ended in September, a rejuvenated Chiefs side won three games in a row.
Solinas highlighted the time afforded to him with his players in training during this break as one of the main reasons behind that run of results.
Now, after another international break, Chiefs are desperate for a similar run of wins, and with several first team players back in action, a semi-final cup win over Pirates would be the perfect start.
4) Underdog tag could inspire players
Although Amakhosi fans expect their side to win any game they play in, its hard to argue that Pirates are not the favourites coming into the semi-final clash after beating Chiefs 2-1 just a few weeks ago.
This tag of underdogs may just inspire the Chiefs players to a much-needed victory and take them a step closer to ending their trophy drought.
5) Breaking the derby winless run
The Glamour Boys are on a winless run of 10 games against the Sea Robbers, and will set a record for the longest winless run between the two sides with another loss in Saturday’s semi-final.
This will certainly be a fact that both the Chiefs supporters and players will be well aware of heading into the clash and they will undoubtedly be doing everything in their power to prevent a record 11th game without a win over their rivals.
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