Lacklustre Pirates, Chiefs must up the ante in Soweto derby
The upcoming derby match is one that certainly does not feature the current best sides in the land.
Willard Katsande of Kaizer Chiefs tackles Lehlohonolo Majoro of Orlando Pirates during the Soweto derby (Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix)
The most popular game in South African club football is back on Saturday as Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates battle it out in the Soweto derby at FNB Stadium.
Yet if this is the grandest occasion on this country’s domestic soccer calendar, with tens of thousands of people set to pack into Johannesburg’s greatest arena, it is also a match that certainly does not feature the current best sides in the land.
Tshwane boasts the holders of the two biggest domestic trophies in the Premier Soccer League, with Mamelodi Sundowns the reigning league champions and SuperSport United the 2016 Nedbank Cup winners. And it is this pair again, along with MTN8 winners Bidvest Wits and Telkom Knockout champions Cape Town City, who have impressed in the 2016/17 season.
Kaizer Chiefs are there or thereabouts in the title race, but Steve Komphela’s team have yet to convince, even in a string of five league wins either side of the new year. For a club with their resources, it is embarrassing that Amakhosi are not closer to matching the achievements of Sundowns, who are also the current champions of the continent, having won the 2016 Caf Champions League and the 2017 Caf Super Cup.
Pirates are in an even worse position than their neighbours, 10th in the table heading into this weekend’s games and on their third coach of the campaign.
Swede Kjell Jonevret has impressed with his cool demeanour since arriving at Pirates, but was not able to stop their poor run in his first game in charge at home to Polokwane City – Pirates have now gone 10 games without a victory in all competitions.
If Jonevret can beat Chiefs, however, he will gain instant hero status among the Buccaneers fans, and it could just be the spark Pirates’ season badly needs.
For Komphela, a win will certainly keep Chiefs in the title hunt, despite all the criticism of his playing style.