For a number of Kaizer Chiefs players, Saturday was their first involvement in the cut-and-thrust of a Soweto Derby and each one came through with flying colours, fulfilling their individual and collective responsibilities to perfection in defeating Orlando Pirates 1-0 before an enormous crowd at FNB stadium.
For Mozambican defender, Edmilson Dove, who has played all over at club and international level, in some big games, found the Derby to be an extraordinary occasion.
“It is everyone’s wish to be inside that stadium with a packed crowd and, I must say, it felt amazing for me personally, especially representing this great Club,” he says.
He was particularly proud of helping Amakhosi keep a clean sheet against the Buccaneers, stating, “What matters most is what you do on the day and we had been working during the week prior to the game. We took into consideration everything the coaches told us and I think it worked. We were compact and worked as a team, so credit goes to the whole team because defending starts from the front, not only for us defenders.”
Dove is convinced the side has established a platform from which to progress.
“We should build from this. If the team shows the same attitude and determination going into the next games, like the upcoming Carling Cup, I think we have a chance to do something amazing again,” he says.
Dove’s partner at the heart of Amakhosi’s defence, Zitha Kwinika who returned to the Club following spells with Chippa, Bidvest Wits and Stellenbosch, reiterates his teammate’s sentiments, having finally played a part in the fixture that means everything to everybody.
“It was a really good one, great atmosphere. It is every boy’s dream to play in such a packed stadium representing the brand and I think we did that very well in front of the people who were there … and we managed to get the required points,” says the muscular centre-back, adding, “I think now, and also from the previous game, which was AmaZulu, where we kept a clean sheet, we want to build up and continue from there.”
Dove and Kwinika were integral to keeping Pirates at bay, especially dangerman, Monnapule Saleng, an element of the match that Kwinika knew was important,
“In football, you have a point to prove so I think the boys knew that if we neutralised that threat we had a good chance of winning,” he says.
Two men who came off the bench to debut in the Derby are Siyethemba Sithebe and Kgaogelo Sekgota.
Sithebe has recently recovered from a bout of Covid and was glad to get some minutes on the field.
“I am very happy. It was my first time being involved in a Derby and it’s a dream come true to play in one,” says the skilful midfielder.
“All I can say is thanks to the coaches and the team, who worked so hard to get the three points.”
He is also thankful for the support he has received from well-wishers for his first Derby.
“During the game I was getting messages from people saying they were very pleased for me. They all wish to play in a Derby and they were happy for me and supporting me,” he laughs.
Sekgota, meanwhile, is thrilled to come out victorious in his first introduction to the Soweto Derby.
KG told www.kaizerchiefs.com, “I am very happy we managed to win the game. We knew how important it was and I want to thank the technical team and all my teammates for the job that we did for the Club.
“We had good motivation from the supporters. We really appreciate their support and we’ll keep on working hard for them.”
Striker, Ashley Du Preez felt boosted by the atmosphere at such a big event and, despite narrowly missing out on converting a couple of first-half chances clearly has developed an appetite for more Derby action to come.
“It was an amazing feeling playing in front of the home fans. I have never played with almost 90 000 fans watching me and it was a brilliant experience,” says the speedy forward.
“It gives you that extra energy to help the team. I think the fans played a huge role in the game by inspiring us so I hope it will happen more often in the future.
“If I had put those chances away it would have been a bonus to my team and to my name, but still, I like Derbies, I want to play in more of them.”
Finally, the hero of the hour, Yusuf Maart, whose jaw-dropping goal from inside his own half clinched the result, acknowledges the incredible support from the Amakhosi faithful.
“I am grateful to play for a big team and playing in front of a crowd like that is something wonderful and I really appreciate the support,” he says.
Speaking about ‘The ‘Goal’, he recounts casually, “It was something special. I saw the goalkeeper off his line and I just hit it direct to the poles and it went in.”
However, on the point that it has been ‘trending’ all over the world, the star responds with an impish wink and a smile,” Ja, it’s obvious. Like they say, It’s ‘Goal of the Season’.”