Johannesburg - New Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret has the chance to become an instant hero on Saturday.
Although he had to hit the ground running in his new job, a win over arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs would certainly endear him to Pirates followers.
Nothing would make Pirates supporters happier than beating Chiefs and Jonevret must be well aware of this.
After going through a bad patch, Pirates now need to turn things around. And there could be no better opportunity to do so than in the Soweto derby.
But it could be detrimental too, as a loss would pile more pressure on Jonevret.
Jonevret said he hoped the players would rise to the occasion and put up a decent performance.
He said he was looking forward to playing his team in front of about 90 000 spectators.
“I have been involved in big matches before in Barcelona and Turin, but never in front of 90 000 supporters. It is better to play in front of [a] crowd [like this] than in an empty stadium. And I hope this will motivate the players to go all out,” said Jonevret.
It should be hard for anyone – especially Chiefs coach Steve Komphela – to plan for the match because he does not know who will be fielded on the Pirates side.
Moreover, Komphela does not know what kind of game plan Jonevret will bring, aside from putting the same number of players on the field as his team.
It is the playing philosophy and the players that Pirates will unleash that will determine things and that should worry Komphela.
While it is too early for Jonevret to already have instilled his style of play, he can be expected to try to confuse his team’s opponents.
The Swede would no doubt have loved to have a few games under his belt before challenging Chiefs, but so be it.
While he might fancy his chances against Pirates, whose players’ morale is low, Komphela knows that his opponents need no motivation to rise to the occasion.
On paper, this is the opportune time to play Pirates, as they are out of sorts. But Komphela should also know that a wounded Pirates team is a dangerous one.
Pirates would want to turn their season around, and a win over Chiefs would go a long way to boosting their morale.
However, defeat would definitely further dent their spirits.
Nothing to prove
Before Saturday night’s game against Ajax Cape Town, Chiefs were on a roll, winning five games on the trot despite not being entirely convincing in those wins. Nevertheless, they managed to grind out the results, which is the most important thing.
One player who is looking forward to the derby is winger Joseph Molangoane, whose stint at Pirates is one to forget.
Playing against his former side always brings out the best in him. He also troubled them while still at Chippa United.
But the modest Molangoane said he had nothing to prove. He said just being part of the game would be enough.
For Pirates, Jonevret should be their saviour, despite having already said he was a not a messiah. But he could become one on Saturday.