JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ON Saturday afternoon, South Africa is set to come to a standstill for 90 minutes as sworn rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, but recent performances suggest a damp squib will be on the offing at the First National Bank Stadium.
The iconic venue will be the combat zone of the Soweto Derby, arguably the most popular event in the local sporting calendar albeit to feature two teams that are struggling for form.
Chiefs and Pirates were again at their dreary best this past weekend as they suffered dispiriting defeats at the hands of Platinum Stars and lowly Jomo Cosmos in that order, piling the pressure on coaches Steve Komphela and Eric Tinkler respectively.
The Amakhosi snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as Eleazar Rodgers rolled back the years with a late brace for a 2-1 scoreline at the Cape Town Stadium.
At Olen Park, relegation struggles Cosmos were again unconvincing but were still good enough to add to Pirates’ miseries in a game settled by Charlton Mashumba’s late goal.
To say the Soweto rivals have been unconvincing is an understatement. Chiefs, although they remain fourth, have declined from champions to draw specialists with seven stalemates in 15 outings the highest recorded by any team in the 16-team league.
Pirates’ position at eleventh echoes their travails in 2015/16.
Following the two sides’ recent struggles, analysts thus project the latest instalment of the Soweto Derby to be a tedious affair.
“Both will be looking not to lose,” says Johannesburg-based African football analyst, Christopher Dube.
“Watch out for a very packed midfield with both likely to go for five men in there, unless one of the coaches decides to be extremely brave.”
Off the field, while the Derby almost always draws a capacity crowd at the 94 700-seater FNB Stadium, it is unlikely this will be attained on Saturday.
“The sold-out sign might not go up,” Dube says.
– CAJ News