Despite being South Africa’s most watched match each season, the Soweto derby has failed to live up to expectation in recent years. Saturday will be the first official Soweto derby of the season, with a predicted 90 000-strong crowd filling FNB Stadium in Johannesburg (15:30 kick-off). The fierce rivalry dates back to the 1970s after Amakhosi was founded by Kaizer Motaung, who returned from playing in North America to start his own soccer club. The Glamour Boys squeezed their way into Soweto, where Pirates and Moroka Swallows already dominated most of the fan base.
The Pirates-Swallows fixture is still to this day known as the ‘original’ Soweto derby, but over the years Motaung’s side have made enough noise to grab the attention of the Buccaneers. Pirates and Chiefs have given birth to many of South Africa’s greatest footballers over the years, namely, Jabu Mahlangu, Doctor Khumalo, Jomo Sono, Donald “Ace” Themba Khuse, Brian Baloyi and Mark Fish to name but a few.
For this weekend’s fixture fans will be hoping the current crop can write their names in the history books. Amakhosi hold a tight grip at the summit of the Absa Premiership following a healthy run of games, while the Buccaneers are still trying to find their feet under the new mentorship of Muhsin Ertugral. The league fixture will be the 62nd of its kind with Chiefs boasting a 24-13 win-loss league record against Pirates.
Twenty-four of the 61 matches finished in draws and Saturday’s encounter could well be the 25th. Chiefs have already tasted victory against Pirates after a 2-0 Carling Black Label Cup victory – a match that serves as a curtain raiser for the season. In the past five seasons, there have only been 18 goals scored between the two sides in home and away league fixtures.
The 2011/12 campaign saw Chiefs deliver a cut-throat performance as they handed Pirates a 2-0 defeat – the Sea Robbers then clinched the second match 3-2. After that rich vein of goals in the Soweto derby, the fixture went stale for the next four seasons with draws and many of it being goalless. The most watched football match in South Africa became anti-climatic. Ertugral and Komphela will both want to leave the match unscathed which could set fans up for yet another 90 minutes of dreadful defensive football. In this case, I hope they prove me wrong. *story by news24.com