Esgodini SikaMaminzela draws back its curtains to host one of the biggest derbies on the African continent. It’s a rivalry to rival all rivalries when Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs lock horns in the Soweto Derby, especially since the last time these sides met, Pirates dumped the Glamour Boys out of the MTN8, beating Amakhosi 5-0 on aggregate.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
This will be Gavin Hunt’s first Soweto derby in the league, and after a recent upturn in form, the four-time league winning coach will be looking to put Josef Zinnbauer in a familiar position to what he was in a few weeks ago as the fans start to turn their backs on the German tactician. Will this encounter be anything like the two derbies we’ve seen already this season? Or will Hunt have an ace or two up his sleeve this time around?
DStv Premiership | Saturday 30 January | Orlando Stadium | 15:30
To Win Match
Orlando Pirates 8/10
Kaizer Chiefs 33/10
The past few weeks have been rocky for Orlando Pirates. So soon after ending their long-standing trophy drought, the Buccaneers’ ship has sailed south. They managed to pull the wool over Ernst Middendorp and Maritzburg United’s eyes this past weekend, beating the Team of Choice 1-0, but prior to that result, Pirates had won just one of their last five matches.
Josef Zinnbauer’s inconsistencies in his team selection has resulted to inconsistent results. Against Maritzburg United, young talents, Bongani Sam and Azola Tshobeni, shone for Pirates which now gives Zinnbauer even more of a headache when it comes to selecting his best team for this weekend’s showdown.
One area of the pitch that Zinnbauer doesn’t need to worry about is in central defence. A few weeks ago, many would have laughed at that statement, but since Happy Jele’s return to the side, Pirates are yet to concede a goal at the time of writing.
The Bucs skipper came on during the 2-0 defeat to Black Leopards and has helped his side keep successive clean sheets over Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United.
With one area of the pitch sorted, Orlando Pirates’ attackers now need to work on their form with some of their so-called big players letting them down far too often. At the time of writing, the club’s top scorers are Fortune Makaringe, Deon Hotto, Thembinkosi Lorch and Vincent Pule, who all have three goals to their name.
Against the biggest opposition in the land, now would be the perfect time to right their wrongs and find their scoring boots.
Kaizer Chiefs come into the biggest game of their season in relatively superb form. The Glamour Boys have won three of their last four matches at the time of writing, keeping three clean sheets in that run.
The resurgence in form has certainly come down to the return of Samir Nurkovic up top, but also in Gavin Hunt’s willingness to switch up his tactics and take certain players out of their comfort zone.
Deploying Siyabonga Ngezana at right-back, while swapping Daniel Cardoso and Anthony Akumu has made Amakhosi much more solid at the back. This approach also allows Chiefs to outnumber their opposition when building out from the back, while Cardoso’s ability to find his teammates with a diagonal long ball has started many of Chiefs’ attacks this term.
But credit must also go the way of Chiefs’ youngsters. Having been hit with a transfer ban, Hunt’s hands were tied behind his back in terms of who he can bring in and ship out, but up steps the kids.
Happy Mashiane, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Darrel Matsheke and Njabulo Blom have all had moments to shine this term and now more than ever with Kaizer Chiefs going through their best spell since Hunt’s arrival.
With Khama Billiat still out for another month, Nurkovic has taken the sole responsibility upfront and has got the best out of those around him. The Serbian, for me, is one of the best players the league has to offer and is good enough to play top-flight football in any country in the world.
His movement in and around the box will come as a massive threat for Orlando Pirates, while the trait I enjoy most about Nurkovic is the fact that he doesn’t need to be involved in a goal to have a solid game.
If he’s up for it, Kaizer Chiefs have a chance against any team in the country.
Verdict: Draw 22/10
Kaizer Chiefs have looked like the team we’ve known them to be from last season, but have a task and a half on their hands to better their record at Orlando Stadium. In the bio-bubble, Chiefs played their home matches at Orlando and had a torrid run of results, now, Amakhosi have to beat their crosstown rivals at a ground they are unbeaten at this season, while also coming up against The Ghost. I’m putting my money on a Soweto Drawby, priced up at 22/10!
Written by Jesse Nagel