“I am very happy to declare a clean bill of health except for a couple of players who are still in rehab,” Pirates coach Owen da Gama told the club’s website. “Chenene will need to pass a late fitness test before we can deem him fit to travel with the team.”
Former Silver Stars coach Da Gama, appointed at the Bucs after Bibey Mutombo was sacked in September, said he is excited to coach Pirates against Chiefs for the first time in tomorrow’s PSL game. Da Gama experienced Soweto derby atmosphere as a player, though in the “other derby” as a striker for Moroka Swallows against Chiefs and Pirates.
While Pirates are hoping for the return of Chenene, Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral has resigned himself to having to do without his team’s star left-winger, Siphiwe Tshabalala.
The talented midfielder seems to be unfortunately prone to injury. Having just returned to action for Chiefs last week in their in their 0-0 league draw against Mamelodi Sundowns, Tshabalala pulled up with a strain in training for Bafana Bafana’s friendly against Canada this week. “We got information from the national team training on Monday and I knew from that point that we were not going to have him available for the game [against Pirates],” said Ertugral.
Tshabalala’s absence should open the way for David Obua to start on the left. The Ugandan has had a stop-start season so far, but is a veteran of the Soweto Derby and scored in both meetings in the 2005/06 season, Chiefs winning 2-0 and 1-0.
“The day after the first Pirates games in 2005/06, people were coming out from everywhere shaking my hand and thanking me. That was when it dawned upon me just what it … means for the Chiefs fans to win a game against Pirates,” Obua said.
The derby has been moved to Durban to showcase SA football to the delegates and media attending the 2010 World Cup Preliminary Draw being held at the ICC on Sunday.
SA’s premier batsman, Jacques Kallis, returns to team for Pro20 tonight