Big Match Feature: Pirates v Chiefs

January 30, 2016, 8:53am

SuperSport
Photo: Backpagepix on SuperSport

Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs head into Saturday's Soweto Derby on the back of morale depleting defeats in the Absa Premiership and will enter the FNB Stadium in desperate need of a win; now more than ever.

Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 pm.

The Buccaneers are in serious danger of ending their proud record of top eight finishes in the league, a 1-0 loss to Jomo Cosmos - their sixth of the season - leaving the club in 11th place on the log standings, a mere four points off the relegation play-off spot.

Their crosstown rivals might be nine points better off, and still in the league title race, but a 2-1 loss to Platinum Stars has the Chiefs faithful worried.

With what has transpired in terms of coaching changes this week, this could be a vital game in the future of both Eric Tinkler and Steve Komphela.

What They Said

Lucky Baloyi:

"I am really excited by the derby. All the players at Naturena will tell you that they want to play on Saturday. It is not just a game, it is a derby - everyone wants to be there and experience that derby feeling.

I've been fortunate enough to play in a derby before and it's a great feeling playing in front of that crowd. To be part of the team, winning the derby, is great. I'm praying and working hard so that I can see myself in the starting eleven come Saturday.

This is the game the fans want us to win."

Thabo Qalinge:

"I haven't played derbies at all. When I was at [Mpumalanga] Aces I played the Nelspruit derby against Witbank Spurs, but here we are talking about a big, epic derby.

It concerns us as players, especially when we're coming from a loss like this [against Cosmos] and approaching a derby. Because we ask ourselves what the approach will be and all that. We just have to focus on the task at hand.

But we try by all means to follow the instructions of the coach so we can get better results in the upcoming games."

Key Players:

Pirates

Brighton Mhlongo - This might come forward as an 'obvious' pick, but one feels that if Mhlongo has a good game, he can inspire Pirates to victory. Having recovered from an injury setback, Mhlongo has reestablished himself as the clubs first choice goalkeeper and will be eager to keep a clean sheet in this the biggest game of them all - as he aims to further cement himself as the clubs first pick.

Thabo Rakhale - With Oupa Manyisa still out injured, Pirates fans will be looking to Rakhale to provide the creative spark. 'Jomo' as the tendency to go quite for portions of the game and will be hoping he can entertain for 90 minutes as the club eye a pressure relieving win.

Lehlohonolo Majoro - On his day, Majoro in unplayable and Pirates fans will be desperate for the former Chiefs man to have one of those days this weekend against his former team. While his finishing is often under the microscope, there is no denying his class. Majoro may not score scores goals as he used to at Aces, but creates space for those around him to blossom.

Chiefs

Erick Mathoho - Chiefs defence has looked suspect at times this season - with Tefu Mashamaite leaving the club and Mathoho struggling with injury at the start of the campaign - it was always going to take time for Komphela to find stability. In Mathoho and Lorenzo Gordinho the former Maritzburg United head coach seems to have found a working combination. No doubt Mathoho is still the most important of the Chiefs back four and will again relish the challenge of Kermit Erasmus and Thamsanqa Gabuza. The Amakhosi have already conceded 12 goals this season - two less than they conceded throughout the whole of last season.

Willard Katsande - Komphela rested the Zimbabwe international in their defeat to Dikwena as he is only a caution away from a one-game suspension. Katsande has been one of the league's outstanding players over the last two seasons and the robust midfielder is sorely missed whenever he is not involved. His accuracy from the spot has added another dimension to his game.

Siphiwe Tshabalala - The Kaizer Chiefs skipper continues to set the example and is vital to the clubs style of play. Tshabalala is a work horse and prefers to lead by example, his delivery from set-pieces is top notch and could prove to be the difference on the day.

Team news:

Kermit Erasmus (Sold to Rennes), Siyabonga Sangweni (knee), Happy Jele (hip) and Oupa Manyisa (fractured fibula) are all ruled out of the Derby. Lehlogonolo Masalesa has returned to training.

George Lebese (groin) and Bernard Parker have returned to training for Chiefs.

Possible line-ups:

Expect Erasmus to return for Pirates and Katsande to take his place in midfield for the Amakhosi.

Reyaad Pieterse has started the clubs last four games and is the safe pick to start between the sticks - Itumeleng Khune though has declared himself fully fit and ready to play...

Pirates’ line-up from their 1-0 loss to Cosmos: Mhlongo, Mahamutsa (Motupa 86'), Matlaba, Gumede, Gcaba, Sarr, Makola, Rakhale, Majoro (Ndoro 73'), Gabuza (Mugerwa 71'), Qalinge.

Chiefs’ line-up from their 2-1 loss to Stars: Pieterse, Gaxa, Gordinho, Mathoho, Masilela, Baloyi, Letsholonyane, Maluleka (Ekstein 70'), Tshabalala, Twala, Abraw (Ndulula 78').

Head to Head:

In head-to-head stats, Pirates and Chiefs have met in 60 league matches since 1985. The Amakhosi have 24 wins compared to 13 for the Buccaneers, while 23 matches have been drawn.

Pirates have won seven of their 31 home matches against Chiefs, suffering 11 defeats in the process. When the teams met earlier this season, Bucs claimed a 3-1 away win thanks to goals from Issa Sarr, Ayanda Gcaba and Thamsanqa Gabuza.

The last home league win in this rivalry was a 3-2 victory for Pirates in 2011/12.