Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs do battle in the Soweto derby on Saturday where a victory for either side will provide them with the confidence to propel them to further successes this season. DEAN WORKMAN explores.
The Buccaneers head into the clash eyeing another victory against their rivals and the three points that will keep them in touch with Bidvest Wits at the top of the table.
Pirates currently sit third on the Absa Premiership table with 32 points after 18 games, 5 points off Wits, although they have a game in hand.
After finishing second last season in Milutin Sredojevic’s first full season since his return to the club, the Sea Robbers have been touted by many to end their four-year trophy drought.
☠ @KaizerChiefs vs @orlandopirates
📅 09 February 2019
🏟 FNB Stadium
📺 SuperSport 4
🎫 @Shoprite_SA Checkers Nationwide
🎟🎟 @Computicket ➡️ https://t.co/ja51aWznDZ
⚫⚪🔴⭐#AbsaPrem #SowetoDerby #OnceAlways pic.twitter.com/mWdALuYpfc
— Orlando Pirates FC (@orlandopirates) February 7, 2019
Pirates are clearly still in the title race and are also eyeing progression in the Caf Champions League, currently sitting top of Group B with 5 points from four matches. They also have an upcoming blockbuster clash against the defending Champions Esperance on Tuesday.
Sredojevic’s charges have had their rivals’ number in recent seasons, beating Chiefs three times in 2018. Another win against a rejuvenated Chiefs side under Ernst Middendorp will reinforce the belief that they are on the right path, and could give them the confidence boost needed ahead of the tight run-in to the end of the campaign.
Chiefs, on the other hand, are still looking to pick up the pieces after Giovanni Solinas’ tumultuous tenure at the beginning of the season.
Just before the start of the season Solinas replaced Steve Komphela, who had spent just under three trophy-less seasons at Naturena, but things didn’t go to plan and the Italian manager lost his job in December after some inconsistent results and performances.
Ernst Middendorp was named as his successor and returned to Chiefs for a second spell.
The Glamour Boys have shown improvement under the German tactician, although results have not been quite as impressive, with Chiefs currently sitting sixth on the log with 27 points after 19 games.
The camp at Naturena have spoken of their desire to climb the league table and compete for one of the continental competition places, a possibility that would require a strong finish for them to make the top 3.
The Amakhosi have, however, progressed to the next round of the Nedbank Cup and will face ABC Motsepe League side Magic FC in the round-of-16 next week.
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) February 7, 2019
Should Chiefs go all the way in the Nedbank Cup, they will not only end their painful trophy drought, but they could also seal a qualification spot for the Caf Confederations Cup.
Chiefs may have beaten Pirates 11 times in the past, but are currently on their longest run without success against their rivals in their illustrious 49-year history.This is also the longest winless stretch in Soweto derby history.
With the stats not favourable for the Amakhosi, a win for Middendorp’s team on Saturday could well be the spark that ignites a run to help carry them to success for the remainder of the season.
The South African football community will come to a standstill on Saturday as the Soweto giants do battle in a game where so much more than three points are at stake.
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