Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates | Saturday 07 March | FNB Stadium | 15:30
It’s Soweto derby time, where the majority of South Africa is split into either gold or black. Runaway leaders Kaizer Chiefs are entitled to the bragging rights having beaten Orlando Pirates twice this season. The first victory was a 1-0 win in the MTN8 final followed by a 2-0 scoreline in the reverse league clash in December. Please note this article was written prior to these sides playing their midweek fixtures. AmaKhosi lie ten points clear of second-place Mamelodi Sundowns and twelve points above the Buccaneers at the time of writing and it’s highly unlikely that they will slip up and not be crowned champions. However, a win in the Soweto derby is always crucial for both of these sides.
To Win (90mins)
Kaizer Chiefs 14/10
Orlando Pirates 19/10
Kaizer Chiefs bounced back from their two poor league results to beat Township Rollers 1-0 in Namibia and progress to the first round of the CAF Champions League where they will face Moroccan club Raja Casablanca. Chiefs went into the second leg holding a 2-1 advantage and Siyabonga Nkosi’s first-half strike was enough for Chiefs to see out the rest of the match comfortably. The Glamour Boys have picked up one point from their previous two ABSA Premiership outings, suffering their first league loss of the season by losing 2-0 away to SuperSport which followed their goalless draw away to Bloemfontein Celtic. Chiefs will host Ajax before meeting their fierce rivals at the same venue on Saturday.
The 2012/13 league champions have been superb this season. Stuart Baxter’s charges have won fourteen of their twenty matches, drawing four times. Kaizer Chiefs have played at their home ground, FNB Stadium, fifteen times this season winning eleven matches and drawing four. They look a stronger unit than their fierce rivals, especially when you consider which Pirates players are capable of breaking into the Chiefs starting eleven. With the exception of Oupa Manyisa and Kermit Erasmus, Stuart Baxter will likely not choose any other players to start in his team. Bernard Parker is back to full fitness and looking dangerous. Willard Katsande, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, George Lebese, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Mandla Masango make up a potent midfield while no team in the league can boast a better back four this season. Brilliant Khuzwayo has been sensational in between the posts, keeping Itumeleng Khune on the bench.
Orlando Pirates have made a turnaround under caretaker coach Eric Tinkler. The Buccaneers are unbeaten in 2015 and are currently on a five-game winning streak. A push for the title seems unrealistic for the Sowetan side, however, second and third are well within reach, with Sundowns and Bidvest Wits tied on 37 points, only two ahead of Pirates. The Sea Robbers recorded their fourth consecutive league win with a 3-1 victory over Polokwane City at the Orlando Stadium last Saturday evening. First-half goals by Mpho Makola, Kermit Erasmus and Oupa Manyisa gave the Buccaneers the three points and another emphatic victory following their 4-0 thrashing of Tornado FC in the Nedbank Cup. The Buccaneers have been written off from the title race but according to Thabo Matlaba, Pirates will keep believing that they can still catch Chiefs at the top of the standings.
“The coach told us that we must believe and win all our games,” the left-back said after the Polokwane game. “Maybe we will catch Chiefs, I don't know, but we have to believe and know that each and every game is important.” The league’s top goalscorer, Lehlohonolo Majoro, will make a return to the squad for Pirates’ midweek clash with Free State Stars, after serving a two match suspension he picked up against Platinum Stars. Majoro has been sublime netting eight goals, an impressive figure for someone who has had minimal game time playing second fiddle to Erasmus. Erasmus is a goal behind Majoro in the league and has nine goals in all competitions. The pacey striker kept his promise that his seven goal tally would be broken as he looked to make this season his highest scoring one since returning to the PSL. Whichever of the two talented strikers Tinkler opts to start in the Soweto derby, the Chiefs defence will have their hands full trying to contain them.
VERDICT: Draw 2/1
It’s difficult seeing Pirates getting a win here as Chiefs have been better than them this season. They’ve beat them twice and are unbeaten against them in the last six meetings. Chiefs have won three of those six head-to-heads but Pirates will be playing their hearts out to avoid a whitewash from their arch-rivals this season. With the infamous draw absent in this fixture for the last two meetings, the sides are tipped to play out what will be the sixth draw from the last ten Soweto derbies.