Why is this Soweto derby different?

A much-awaited Soweto derby takes place today, and here we take a look at how different this one is going to be from previous encounters. First and foremost, as they always say, it doesn’t matter who is in form because this clash is more about protecting one’s bragging rights.

What makes this one special?

  • It’s the first one for both coaches

He may have featured in several derbies as a player, but this will be the first time that Arthur Zwane stands on the touchline as a leader of Amakhosi ,who are arguably the most supported club in the nation. 

Pirates mentor Jose Riveiro on the other side, has only heard about the match and perhaps watched the visuals of previous encounters. Now experiencing it first-hand with the naked eye, is it going to overwhelm him? 

One thing is certain is that the derby will be the biggest game either coach has experienced as a coach, and the pressure from 90 000 fans could be overwhelming.

  • The first one with fans since Covid-19

For the past two years, the Soweto derby was weird without the cheers and chants from the crowd. Let’s face it, a derby without a full house of fans is not the same. As we have seen this season, the attendance in the stadiums is better than what it was before lockdown.

And looking at how fast the derby tickets were sold out, tells you how much the fans missed this event. 

  • Many players from both teams will experience a derby for the first time

Just like both coaches, some players from both sides will experience this match for the first time. The most talked-about Monnapule Saleng who’s been terrorising teams, will he strike fear into Chiefs in his first derby? Nkosinathi Sibisi, who’s been a solid rock in the Bucs’ defence, but can he keep it that way in front of over 90 000 spectators? Can Riveiro count on Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo to produce his wizardry in this pressure cooker? Unfortunately, Miguel Timm will miss his first taste of a derby because of suspension, after accumulating four yellow cards.

On the Chiefs side, the new defence of Zitha Kwinika and Edmilson Dove has been somewhat shaky, and the derby may prove to be too much for them if they don’t stand firm on the day. The under-fire Ashley Du Preez has to prove that he is worth wearing the famous Gold and Black shirt, and win the hearts of many, should he turn things around in the derby. Yusuf Maart hasn’t been consistent since joining Amakhosi, and he has to take the responsibility to win the game in the midfield. Not an easy task in your first 90 000 fan experience. It’s still unclear if Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana will be available for selection as he’s been struggling with injury, but if he’s fit for the derby it’s the perfect occasion for strikers to make themselves instant heroes.

Even experienced derby campaigners feel the intense pressure a derby brings. Imagine the unbearable tension the newcomers feel, its enough to make or break them. 

The match will be hosted by Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium today and the kick-off is set for 15:30.

A much-awaited Soweto derby takes pllace this weekend – Photo credit: Jacaranda FM