Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will do battle in the 164th edition of the Soweto derby, and while a close encounter is anticipated, SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN has picked out five reasons why the Buccaneers will edge this one.
The winner of this encounter will end the day in second place, with only two points separating Pirates, who are currently second with 16 points, and Giovanni Solinas’ team who are third with 14 points.
Pirates, however, have continuity under the guidance of Milutin Sredojevic and assistant coach Rulani Mokwena, and will look to have an advantage over an injury-hit Chiefs side.
1) Nyatama’s return
After an injury to Musa Nyatama saw the 2017-18 Orlando Pirates Player of the Year miss a chunk of games earlier in the season, the midfielder finally looks to be back to full fitness after playing in their last two games.
Earlier in the week, Mokwena spoke of Nyatama’s importance to the Pirates side and his ability to control a game, which is of vital importance in the possession-based tactics employed by the Sea Robbers.
The former Bloemfontein Celtic man’s return could just be a deciding factor in the cauldron of a Soweto derby.
2) Chiefs’ defensive instability
Giovanni Solinas has constantly searched for the right defensive combinations at the beginning of the season.
Daniel Cardoso, Eric Mathoho, Teenage Hadebe, Siyabonga Ngezana and Mario Booysen have all partnered one another at some stage.
With defensive continuity a vital component in building a solid defensive unit, Solinas’ chopping and changing may just prove fatal when the pressure begins to mount in front of a sold-out FNB stadium.
3) Injuries galore at Naturena
Speaking after Chiefs edged Black Leopards in a penalty shootout in the Telkom Knockout, Solinas lamented his long injury list with the likes of Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat, Lebogang Manyama, Dumisani Zuma, Siyabonga Ngezana and Daniel Cardoso all missing the clash.
With Castro, Billiat and Manyama all looking likely to miss out, Chiefs will be lacking serious star quality in attack and in an encounter that could be decided by a moment of brilliance, the loss of their star men could prove decisive.
4) Pule’s brilliance
Vincent Pule has been in sensational form for Pirates since his arrival from Bidvest Wits. The wing has scored four goals while also providing two assists in his 11 appearances across all competitions.
The 26-year-old, who received his first Bafana Bafana call-up for his impressive form earlier in the season, has become the talisman of this Pirates side and could be an influential factor in determining the result.
5) Micho and Rulani’s tactical prowess
Mokwena’s comment on Chiefs’ tactical deficiencies under Solinas, adding that they miss Steve Komphela’s quality in that area, may be chalked down to mind games by many, but there is a basis to his claims.
The Pirates assistant coach spoke about the structural indiscipline in the Chiefs side, and it’s hard to argue with his point.
Chiefs under Komphela were defensively sound and difficult to break down, but under Solinas, Chiefs play on the front foot. One of the pitfalls of an aggressive attacking approach is that it will leave space for your opponents to hurt you, and this has been evident when watching the Glamour Boys this season.
Sredojevic and Mokwena would not only have worked on a plan to nullify the attacking threat of their rivals, but also one on how they are going to take advantage of the space that Chiefs will certainly provide them with.
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