By Dwaine Whiting
This Saturday will see South Africa’s top two sides going to head to head in the 148th Soweto derby. Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates have been battling it out for the title for the most part of the season, with Platinum Stars seemingly falling behind and with Pirates five points behind their rivals, the pressure has certainly shifted to Roger De Sa’s men.
When Stuart Baxter was brought in, his arrival was clouded with speculation about a fake CV and losing 4-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns in the first round of the MTN8 Cup did not help Baxter’s case. However, the 59-year-old has certainly proved the doubters wrong, his side have been the pace setters in the Premier Soccer League this campaign and are currently five points ahead Pirates, but having played a game more. Amakhosi come in to this match off the back of a hard fought 2-0 win against relegation threatened Chippa United in Cape Town.
The League’s top goal-scorer Bernard Parker looks likely to return to the lineup, while left-back Tsepo Masilela looks set to feature as well; both missed the win against Chippa United. Meanwhile, Lehlohonolo Majoro and Matthew Rusike will both miss the Saturday’s match, with the former sustaining an ankle injury and the latter injuring his groin during Wednesday night’s fixture.
Now the past two weeks has not been smooth sailing for the Buccaneers and this match will prove to be vital if they are to stake a claim for the league title. A loss to Moroka Swallows and a draw against Bloemfontien Celtic have left De Sa’s men five points off the leaders and injury to key players has certainly affected the side. The 48-year-old will be hoping Siyabonga Sangweni will be fit in time for Saturday’s clash, the defending league Champions have been at sixes and sevens at the back without Sangweni, conceding eight goals in three matches, much to the disappointment of De Sa.
De Sa are without Benni McCarthy, Moneeb Josephs, Sifso Myeni, Rooi Mahamutsa and Robyn Johannes this weekend, with both sides affected by injury, this fixture will undoubtedly test the depth of both squads, however at the moment Chiefs seem to better than their rivals.
This Saturday will see arguably two of the best midfielders in the PSL at the moment, go head to head. Chiefs’ Renielwe “Yeye’ Letsholonyane and Pirates’ Andile Jali have been outstanding in recent weeks for their respective sides. However, these two maestros are not only two that have impressed, Chiefs hard man Willard Katsande has enjoyed an impressive spell in the team alongside Yeye, the 27-year-old has added a bit steel in the midfield, that was lacking when Tinashe Nengomasha left the club in the off season. there is no doubt the midfield battle will prove to be key in which way the result goes and we know Bafana Bafana Head Coach, will be intrigued to see who gets the better of who, with Bafana due to play later this month.
As I said before, most of the pressure will be on the Buccaneers, meaning they will have to go for it but that doesn’t mean Amakhosi will just sit back, there is no doubt Baxter and his troops will be going for the win, especially with Pirates having a game in hand. So come this Saturday, could the title be wrapped up if Chiefs get the win or do Pirates still have a bit of fight left in them? Either way the 148th edition of the Soweto will not disappoint.