The 155th official meeting is scheduled for the iconic First National Bank (FNB) Stadium in Soweto on the back of contrasting fortunes for the two sides.
Ahead of the clash, Kaizer Chiefs are playing the kind of football that is reminiscent of last season’s dominant campaign that won them a League and Cup Double.
Unbeaten eight games into the season, Amakhosi on Tuesday warmed up for the biggest fixture in the local football calendar with a 1-0 win but dominant display against Mpumalanga Black Aces at the venue for the
Saturday match. They are fourth on the log.
The same cannot be said about Pirates. The Buccaneers’ disappointing start leave them precariously placed on the relegation zone (13th).
The day after Chiefs defeated visiting Aces, Bucs horror domestic showing continued with a 2-0 defeat at home to unfashionable Golden Arrows piling the pressure on Head coach Eric Tinkler.
The side has not transferred its form on the continent, where they will contest the Confederation Cup final next month, to the domestic league.
While Tinkler has remained defiant amid the difficulties, his poise during the Soweto Derby in Johannesburg on Thursday, forlon figure, alongside striker Kermit Erasmus, mirroring the gloom currently charactersing the Orlando side.
Across the room, his opposite number, Steve Khompela, was at his cheerful, exuberant best in the company of Bernard Parker.
However, the coaches pointed out current form did not have a bearing on
the outcome of the Derby.
“Results of the matches leading to this encounter count for nothing as far as the result of the Derby is concerned. Even if we had lost to Aces in the midweek match, it was still not going to have a bearing,” said Khompela.
“The Derby is a totally different kettle of fish. It is a completely different game. Every player raises his hand up for contention, which gives us coaches selections headaches,” said the Pirates coach.
Johannesburg-based analyst, Gugu Maphosa, projected a closely-fought contest as was the case with the majority of previous Soweto Derbies.
“It might even end nil-nil. The reason is simple. They always seem to play for draws in the Derby,” said Maphosa.
“Nonetheless, the performance of the two clubs has not been convincing. Chiefs might be among the top sides at present but their defensive organisation has been poor. Pirates have been hit by injuries and key
players are likely to be unavailable,” Maphosa added.
A bumper crowd is expected at the 95-000 seater “Calabash.”
While the contest has been a closely-contested affair in recent years, statistics favours Chiefs, who have won 67 times to Pirates 37. A total of 47 matches have been drawn while five have been abandoned- including in April 2001 when 43 fans lost their lives in a stampede at Ellis Park, the darkest moment in Derby history.
– CAJ News