The derby, sold out by last weekend, is the showcase event on the domestic football calendar, and today’s PSL game will be televised live in 43 European countries on Eurosport, and on a pay-TV network in the United States.
The match will be attended by delegates from tomorrow’s preliminary draw, including Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
And while neither Pirates, whose home game was moved to Durban to coincide with the draw, nor Chiefs, have been in convincing form this season, the global audience and occasion are sure to see both lift their games for the traditional derby between South African football’s greatest foes.
One rising star who will be looking to increase his growing reputation on the international stage will be Pirates playmaker Teko Modise. It is hard to write a story about South African football at present without mentioning Pirates’ and Bafana Bafana’s newest midfield star.
Modise scored his second brace in a very short international career for Bafana with a magical long-range goal and a confidently struck penalty in the 2-0 win for a South African B side over a full-strength Canada at King’s Park on Tuesday. The lithe, graceful playmaker notched up his fifth goal in six games in a remarkable start to his international career for Bafana.
So far, Modise has scored just once for Pirates — a trademark 25-metre free-kick in the Buccaneers’ 3-1 defeat in their last league fixture against SuperSport United at Loftus. But he has been Bucs’ most influential player since signing from SuperSport, and being converted from a winger to a central midfielder.
Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral, though, sounded a word of warning yesterday at a somewhat tetchy press conference with Pirates counterpart Owen da Gama, about putting too much pressure to perform on the shoulders of the 24-year-old midfielder, who is playing in just his second season in the PSL.
“Teko is a wonderful player, and I must say that I am jealous of Owen for having a player like that,” Ertugral said. “But I think the media have to be very careful because I think it is a bit too much in the last few days what has been happening.
“We have seen already in the last few years how some wonderful prospects have gone down the drain [from being built up too much]. So I think we should be a bit careful and give the boy time to grow.”
Pirates have not beaten Chiefs in a league game since 2002, but Da Gama, who will be in charge in his first Pirates-Chiefs derby having replaced sacked coach Bibey Mutombo in September, does not see too much significance in the statistic. “History is something that you put in books, you don’t take history on to the field of play. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Obviously Orlando Pirates would like to win.”
Da Gama said he has a full squad available, apart from long-term injuries Joseph Kamwendo and Ralph Matema. Exciting winger Bennet Chenene has recovered from the ankle injury picked up during last weekend’s Moqhaka Charity Cup, and resumed training this week.
Ertugral would not be drawn on his injuries, with speculation that Siphiwe Tshabalala, who picked up a muscle strain while training with Bafana for the Canada game, might make a surprise appearance. Chiefs have suffered from long-term injuries to winger David Mathebula, forward Tshepo Bulu and defender Jonathan Quartey.
“Anyway, when you’re playing a team like Pirates in a derby everyone will want to play, even the kit manager,” Ertugral said, slyly referring to Da Gama’s comment earlier this week that the Chiefs player he feared most was the kit manager.
Da Gama had his own subtle dig at Ertugral, who played a 4-5-1 formation in his team’s 0-0 draw against Mamelodi Sundowns last week. Asked if the teams tomorrow will employ an open game in view of the global audience, in contrast to the highly tactical but cautious gameplans of Chiefs and Downs last week, Da Gama said: “From the Orlando Pirates perspective you can see the way we play. Free-flowing attacking football with organised and disciplined defence. The issue of playing with one striker and five midfielders is … not the attitude that we are going to adopt.
“I think we are a growing team with a lot of young players and we want to teach them the right thing — that it’s got to be a controlled attack and a very controlled defensive game and not an outright defensive approach.
“We have got a distinctive approach tomorrow and we hope it can appease the local and the international fraternities.”
Kickoff: 3.30 pm — broadcast live on Super-Sport 3 and SABC1.