The build-up to Saturday’s Soweto Derby Nedbank Cup semifinal between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates is in full swing as the anticipation increases ahead of the potentially epic encounter at FNB Stadium.
The Soweto Derby is a game like no other, where prior form goes out of the window, and anything can happen on the day. Amakhosi have enjoyed a league double over the Buccaneers this season, as part of an ongoing five-match winning run against their arch-rivals, but Pirates lie above them in the DStv Premiership table, leaving very little to choose between the teams.
“We all know that games like this are difficult for everyone. They are also unpredictable, so, as things stand Pirates are doing very well. We are coming into this game as underdogs so the only thing that is left for us is to believe in ourselves and go to FNB Stadium with one thing in our minds, to keep going and give our best and make sure we come out victorious,” Chiefs coach, Arthur Zwane, told the assembled media on Wednesday.
Once again, Amakhosi go into a Derby on the back of a defeat, but having beaten the Sea Robbers on the past five occasions, Zwane doesn’t believe it will affect his team this time around either.
“Losing every time before the Derby counts for nothing, to be quite honest,” he said. “It’s a different ball game altogether. We all know that you can’t rely on history. It’s about how we will apply ourselves, and also what Pirates are going to bring to us, so it’s not going to be an easy game.”
In fact, Zwane thinks it is something Pirates might be wary of in their preparation for the match.
“Pirates are oozing confidence, but they are coming into this game also knowing very well that they are playing a Kaizer Chiefs that is wounded, so we will give our best and we are going to FNB (Stadium) to win the game,” vowed Zwane, adding “In terms of preparations, last time we got it right, but as their coach says this time it will be a different Orlando Pirates, so only time will tell; that’s all I can say.”
Zwane’s first full season at the helm has had its ups and downs, mainly caused by a constant stream of injuries and suspensions throughout the campaign. However, he is still in with a good chance of becoming the first coach to guide Amakhosi to a major trophy in seven years. On Saturday, he will be without inspirational captain, Keagan Dolly, who is out for the remainder of the season.
Reflecting on the situation, Zwane said, “We miss all the players that have been out, not only Keagan, more especially when we are looking for chemistry. Unfortunately, we had a lot of injuries to key players, as well as suspensions and unforeseen circumstances beyond our control and we had to chop and change the team. It has been the most difficult season I’ve had since I have been here because of all that.
“We can’t dwell on that, though. We have to try to come up with a solution, a new plan to make sure we accommodate everyone because we also have other players who haven’t been playing regularly. So, you have seen we have given the opportunity to Happy Mashiane to play; and KG (Kgaogelo Sekgota) as well, to bring back their confidence. Though we lost to Swallows, the guys applied themselves well. In the game before, I think we showed a lot of character against Chippa. I just hope the guys will show the same character, discipline and tactical endurance against Orlando Pirates,” he added.
All in all, the stage is set and the stakes are high. This is one encounter not to be missed by any member of the Amakhosi faithful.
Tickets for South Africa’s biggest football match are available online at www.ticketpros.co.za or in stores at Spar Supermarkets, Sasol filling stations and Postnet outlets from R100 per ticket. The match starts at 15:00.