Absa Premiership

Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates Soweto derby: 5 things to know

2020-02-28 07:18
Josef Zinnbauer and Ernst Middendorp
Josef Zinnbauer and Ernst Middendorp (Gallo Images)

Soweto - Two Germans will create Soweto derby history on Saturday when Ernst Middendorp and Josef Zinnbauer coach Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in one of the most anticipated African club fixtures.

It is going to be the first time in the 50-year history of the greatest South African sporting rivalry that both coaches come from European football power Germany.

Under Middendorp, Chiefs are leading the Absa Premiership entering the final third of the season, but the Zinnbauer-inspired Pirates are hot on their heels, thanks to six straight victories.

Here are different aspects of one of most significant matches between the Soweto rivals in recent years.

German coaches

Middendorp is trying to end a 58-month title drought at a club used to success having won a record 53 domestic competitions since being formed in 1970.

Lucky to survive the sack after losing the Nedbank Cup final to a second division club last season, the German has built a team heavily reliant on set pieces for goals.

Zinnbauer, who coached Hamburg in the Bundesliga, inherited a Pirates side trailing Chiefs by 17 points when he replaced local Rhulani Mokoena two months ago.

Choosing from the same squad, he has transformed the Buccaneers, and is unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions since taking charge, winning seven and drawing two.

Foreign sharpshooters

Foreign sharpshooters Frank Mhango of Pirates and Samir Nurkovic of Chiefs could hold the key in one of the most eagerly awaired Soweto derbies for many seasons.

Malawian Mhango tops the league scoring charts with 14 goals, three more than third-place Nurkovic, a Serb.

Mhango has blossomed since Zinnbauer arrived, scoring most of his goals under the guidance of the German, whose career as a lower-league midfielder was cut short by injury.

Nurkovic was signed by Chiefs this season after playing in front of tiny crowds for a number of Slovenian second-tier clubs.

High stakes

The derby is a must-win match for Pirates, who trail Chiefs by six points and have played one match more.

Chiefs have 45 points, defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns 41, Pirates 39 and SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits 34 each in a race complicated by clubs having played differing numbers of games.

While the media have constantly highlighted Chiefs' lack of silverware in recent seasons, it is 70 months since Pirates last lifted a trophy.

Chiefs have had the edge over Pirates this season, winning the first-round league clash, and a League Cup quarter-final after a penalty shootout.

Huge crowd

The match at FNB Stadium - popularly known as Soccer City and the venue of the 2010 World Cup final won by Spain against the Netherlands - has attracted a sell-out 90 000 crowd (kick-off is at 15:30).

A music concert taking place close to the stadium at the same time means authorities are on high alert with up to 130 000 people expected to attend the two events.

Unlike Europe, where rival supporters often have to be separated by rows of police, South African football fans mingle freely with no segregated areas in the ground.

There are drawbacks to attending a Soweto derby, though, including finding your seat occupied by someone who refuses to move, and the threat from thieves, who often target mobile phones.

African derbies

Matches between Chiefs and Pirates rank among the most popular derbies in Africa that pit clubs from the same city against each other.

The best known rivalry is that between Cairo outfits Al Ahly and Zamalek, which dates back to 1917 and draws interest from the entire Arabic-speaking world.

Other derbies that attract huge crowds and hype include Raja and Wydad in Casablanca, USM and Mouloudia in Algiers and Esperance and Club Africain in Tunis.

High-profile African derbies not involving teams from the same city are Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko in Ghana and TP Mazembe and V Club in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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Saturday, 04 April 2020
Stellenbosch v Cape Town City, Cape Town Stadium 15:00
Orlando Pirates v Baroka FC, Orlando Stadium 15:00
Chippa United v Highlands Park, Sisa Dukashe Stadium 15:00
SuperSport United v Polokwane City, Lucas Moripe Stadium 18:00
Wits v AmaZulu, Bidvest Stadium 20:15
Maritzburg United v Mamelodi Sundowns, Harry Gwala Stadium 20:15
Sunday, 05 April 2020
Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs, Dr Molemela Stadium 15:00
Golden Arrows v Black Leopards, Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium 15:00
Wednesday, 08 April 2020
Cape Town City v Mamelodi Sundowns, Cape Town Stadium 19:30
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