Kaizer Chiefs stand at the doorstep of a 20th appearance in the Nedbank Cup Final and the opportunity of winning it for the 14th time, but a mammoth task awaits them in what has been billed ‘The final before the final’, namely the semifinal against arch-rivals Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium in the at 15h00 on Saturday afternoon. It is sure to be a blockbuster encounter in front of a full house.
Chiefs and Pirates have a long history stretching back to 1970, and their rivalry in the Nedbank Cup goes back to the 1971 season, which was the first year that there was a professional league in South Africa. Having defeated Pirates home and away in the league that season, Chiefs were targeting a third win over them when they met in the Life Challenge Cup Final on 11 December 1971.
Ace Ntsoelengoe scored for Chiefs from the penalty spot and Amakhosi also benefited from an own goal, as the game ended 2-2. In the replay a week later, Chiefs won 2-1, with goals from Petrus ‘Ten Ten’ Nzimande and Michael ‘Bizzah’ Dlamini, to lift the first of 13 Nedbank Cup titles. Overall, Chiefs and Pirates have met a total of 20 times in this competition. Chiefs have ten victories, nine of which have come in open play, with a single penalty shoot-out victory in the 2006 final in Durban. Pirates have managed to win five times, with four more ending in draws.
In the PSL era, this game is their fifth clash in the Nedbank Cup, the first coming in a 1996-97 Semi-final clash, won 4-1 by Pirates. The following season, Pirates eliminated Chiefs in the round of 16, winning 1-0. While Chiefs did turn the tide with victory in the 2005-06 Absa Cup Final, Pirates won the most recent meeting between the teams, 2-0, in the 2015-16 round of 32.
Current Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane was in the Chiefs team that defeated Pirates on penalties in a memorable Cup Final in May 2006 in Durban. Pirates dominated the game early on but good rear guard action from Chiefs saw them hold their nerve and turn the tables to defeat Pirates in the shoot-out.
The teams have met multiple times in Nedbank Cup semifinals over the years, with Chiefs leading the head-to-head count three-to-one. The first was a five-goal thriller in 1972, in which Chiefs prevailed 3-2. Dlamini, the hero from the 1971 Life Challenge Cup Final, got in on the act again, this time scoring a brace.
In 1987, a season in which Chiefs won four trophies, they defeated Pirates 2-1 in a replayed semifinal after the first game ended 1-1.
It was another victory for Chiefs in the 1993 last four clash, but Pirates recorded a 4-1 win the most recent time the teams met, in a Nedbank Cup semifinal in 1997.
Amakhosi, having have already secured a league double over Pirates by winning back-to-back league games 1-0 home and away this season, are looking for a third triumph over Pirates for the season, a feat achieved twice previously since 1996-97 – first, in 2005-06, back-to-back league wins were followed by victory in the Absa Cup Final, and then in 2019-20, a win over Pirates in the Telkom Knockout Cup Quarterfinals preceded a league double for Chiefs.
For Amakhosi, the incentives are a place in their 20th Nedbank Cup Final plus important township bragging rights and an end to the years of going trophyless.
Tickets for South Africa’s biggest football match are available online at www.ticketpros.co.za or in stores at Spar and Boxer Supermarkets, Sasol filling stations and Postnet outlets from R100 per ticket. The match starts at 15:00.