Here is the story: Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will lock horns at FNB stadium on Saturday afternoon in yet another edition of the Soweto Derby.
The Soweto derby is the biggest fixture in the South African football calendar, inspiring feelings of excitement during the week that leads up to the fixture.
Players from both clubs look forward to the game, with each player hoping for a chance to be on the starting line-up and play in front of a passionate capacity crowd.
The words of Makhehlene Makhaula, Amabhakaniya’s latest signing, are enough to highlight the magnitude of the Soweto derby, and what it means to the players.
“I’m a bit nervous. I have never played in front of more than 90,000 people, but I’m looking forward to it and I’m working hard at training.
“So, it’s going to be up to the coach to select me because I always raise my hand even if he gives me five or 10 minutes, I’m always raising my hand.”
His coach, Jose Riveiro, believes the derby is an opportunity to advertise South African football to the world.
“The Soweto Derby is an opportunity to show people around the world how serious we take football in South Africa.”
But when it comes to game day, and what the two giants dish out on the field of play, the whole hype around the game turns into a disappointing anti climax.
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The fact of the matter is: The Soweto derby has lost its soul. With the standards of both teams on a steady decline over the past few seasons, so has what they dish out on the pitch during what is supposed to be the biggest game in the country.
Jose Riveiro means well when he calls the game an opportunity to show the world our seriousness about the beautiful game.
The fact is, there is hardly anything to show the world when the two clubs play each other lately. The game is no longer a hair raising experience it used to be a few years ago.
It didn’t matter whether you supported one of the two sides or not, you wouldn’t dare want to miss the fixture.
There were rivalries that made the games interesting, my favorite being between Jerry Skhosana and Brian Baloyi. Other legends like Doctor Khumalo, Tebogo Moloi, and Metroblitz Sithole made the derby feel like a supernatural football experience.
The players played with so much passion you’d swear their lives depended on the results of the game, which in a way they did, even though not to the extreme.
We have heard how some players would not want to show their faces in public after losing the derby, because they would feel the full wrath of their fans.
Nowadays, it is totally different, the standards in passion and the football itself have dropped drastically, with the derby left as nothing but a body without a soul.
Even the recent Cape Town derby, between Cape Town City and Stellenbosch brought more entertainment value than Mzansi’s mother of all derbies.
In a nutshell: Maybe the derby is no longer a good advert for South African football.
In time, when the two giants rediscover themselves, maybe, just maybe, the Soweto derby will also find its soul.