Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

The derby has lost its mojo as Chiefs and Pirates trail in Sundowns’ wake

Both Soweto sides sit a monstrous 19 points behind Masandawana heading into Saturday's game.

 It’s hard not to look at Saturday’s DStv Premiership Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates without a sense of anti-climax, on and off the field of play. 

ALSO READ: Pirates fail to fire in yet another draw

Off it, another derby will be played out in an empty stadium, as fans continue to be denied the right to attend matches by the Premier Soccer League. 

Government regulations allow for 2000 fans to gather at Orlando Stadium, and even with this limited attendance, there would be some money to make from ticket sales, and for the street-sellers whose income must have been horribly damaged by the absence of supporters. 

More than this, derbies are built on the atmosphere in a packed stadium, with the banners and choice of costume of the two sets of fans sometimes more entertaining than the actual football. 

On the pitch, Amakhosi and the Buccaneers are involved not in a title race, in any realistic sense, but in a battle to be the bridesmaids to a rampant Mamelodi Sundowns. 

It’s not exactly a fight that befits sides of the stature of Chiefs and Pirates, but it has become one that is all too familiar to fans of the two sides in recent times. 

Chiefs did run Sundowns extremely close for the 2019/20 title, but lost out at the death, and other than that have not come close to winning a league title they last took it home in 2014/15.  

Pirates, meanwhile, do not have a domestic championship to their name since the 2011/12 season, the closest they came after that being when they finished two points behind Sundowns at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. 

Stuart Baxter’s Chiefs are 19 points behind the Tshwane giants in the table, after winning only 9 of 18 Premiership games this season, and if they have four games in hand, two of those could yet be given as wins to the opposition, as Chiefs refused to play against Cape Town City and Golden Arrows in December, citing an outbreak of Covid-19 at the Amakhosi Village.

Chiefs just haven’t clicked enough under Baxter this season, and are set for another trophyless campaign, after recently being knocked out of the Nedbank Cup by TS Galaxy.

Pirates, meanwhile, are also 19 points behind Sundowns, following last night’s goalless draw with Cape Town City, with just one game in hand on Masandawana.

11 draws in 20 league games have irreparably damaged any hope Pirates might have had of winning the title, in fact more than just a battle to be bridesmaids to Sundowns, Chiefs and Pirates will have to stay on their game to finish in the top eight this season.

Heading into last night’s games, just eight points separated Royal AM in second place in the table from Golden Arrows in 10th. Chiefs and Pirates, indeed, both sat closer to Chippa United, in 15th place in the table, than they did to Sundowns at the top. How the mighty have fallen.

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