S'Busiso Mseleku

Form aside in Soweto Derby

2014-12-04 15:15
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

I opened a hornets' nest by daring to ask whether there was something wrong with Kaizer Chiefs after playing to three draws in the league and being bundled out of the Telkom Knockout.

The Amakhosi faithful descended on me like a ton of bricks or a swarm of angry bees for daring to venture into that territory.

Their club also vindicated them with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Bidvest Wits to stay 11 points clear of immediate pursuers Ajax Cape Town.

But a realistic look will show that the club did suffer a slight blip as shown by the Q2 log issued by the PSL on Tuesday that showed Polokwane City on top after four matches with Chiefs - who comfortably won Q1 - appearing in position six with one win in four outings.

But back to midweek business, that Chiefs' victory over Wits came a day after arch-rivals Orlando Pirates succumbed 2-1 to Maritzburg United, meant that the Buccaneers are now 15 points behind Chiefs.

This, plus the fact that Vladimir "VV" Vermezovic quit as coach leaving Eric Tinkler as caretaker coach, has just added more spark to Saturday's Soweto Derby.

While some might think "advantage Chiefs", things don't normally work like that, more especially where these two giants of South African soccer are concerned.

In fact, Chiefs should be wary of the fact that their opponents come into this encounter as a wounded lion. We all know how dangerous that can be.

Another common aspect of the South African game is that players tend to show their dislike for a coach by non-performance.

Under these circumstances, one can never rule out that VV did not get along with the players and they decided to vote with their feet.

Also, the great Soweto Derby has proved over the years that it is a match where form usually counts for nought.

It usually does not matter which club is on song and which is down and out, the two clubs produce fireworks most of the time - except for a few dour encounters that have ended in goalless draws.

With Chiefs comfortably (at least for now) perched at the summit of the standings, all those below them would like to take pot-shots at them and nothing would please The Ghost (as Pirates supporters are collectively known) than to see their club be the first to claim their rivals' scalp this season.

Chiefs are unbeaten in 13 outings and have only lost one match, that penalty shootout against Platinum Stars in the Telkom Knockout.

Another ingredient that makes the derby tick, is the crowd. And as we all know tickets for this game were sold out long before it was postponed following the death of Senzo Meyiwa.

One can be guaranteed of an electric vibe inside the African calabash.

It has happened in the past that the points at stake were not of prime importance as opposed to bragging rights and pride. But this time around, the points are crucial for both clubs before the Africa Cup of Nations-induced break in January.

All in all, expect fireworks on Saturday.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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