Derby No 4 – it’s the decider!
Much is at stake in the Nedbank Cup knockout match, not least of which are this year’s bragging rights
Winning the Nedbank Cup is Orlando Pirates’ only way back to continental competition next year. For Kaizer Chiefs, it is the opportunity to salvage something this season – after coming so close on two occasions already.
One thing that’s certain about Saturday’s Soweto derby is that there will at least be a winner, as only one side will advance to the next round of the Nedbank Cup.
This will be the fourth and final time both sides meet in the Premier Soccer League this season, following two league matches and a Telkom Knockout (TKO) semifinal.
Pirates beat Chiefs 3-1 in the first round of the Absa Premiership before Amakhosi knocked the Buccaneers out on penalties in the semifinals of the TKO.
Their second-round Absa Premiership match ended in a 1-1 draw.
So you might say that this match is the derby decider.
With the last encounter ending in a stalemate, supporters should at least be guaranteed a more open game, as both teams will be going for the jugular in hopes of booking their places in the last 16 of the tournament.
Despite commentators complaining about too many derbies in one season, supporters will be flocking to the Calabash. They just can’t get enough of the age-old rivalry.
There are never easy games between the clubs, and Saturday should be another hard-fought encounter.
With the league title either slipping from their grasp (Amakhosi) or already long gone (Bucs), Saturday’s game will present the coaches with the opportunity to finish the season with at least one piece of silverware.
Chiefs are nine points behind pacesetters Mamelodi Sundowns, while Pirates are fighting for a spot in the top
Santos vs Mthatha Bucks (Athlone Stadium); Maritzburg United vs Black Leopards (Harry Gwala Stadium)
Bidvest Wits vs Bloemfontein Celtic (Bidvest Stadium); Steenberg United vs Platinum Stars (Athlone Stadium)
eight. Despite reaching two cup finals – the MTN8 and the Telkom Knockout – Steve Komphela knows that finishing the season without anything to show for it will be deemed a failure.
The finals he contested were a case of so close, and yet so far, and they won’t mean anything to the Chiefs faithful who are used to winning at least one trophy a season.
After making slow but steady progress at Naturena in his first season, the pressure is now on Komphela to deliver something – anything – especially after Amakhosi won the MTN8 and Absa Premiership championship last season.
As for Eric Tinkler, after a season to forget, he will see this as the chance of a lifetime to redeem himself.
The Nedbank Cup gives Tinkler the opportunity to end a difficult season on a high – it saw him criss-crossing the African continent to also fail at the final hurdle.
Two barren years will certainly not wash with the club’s supporters and will no doubt put his position at Pirates on the line.
As for squad selections, Chiefs will have to do without one of their key defenders after Lorenzo Gordinho picked up his fourth yellow in the game against Polokwane City. But Komphela has enough centre backs at his disposal to fill the gap. Daniel Cardoso, who started his first game for Amakhosi against City, as a right back, could be called on to partner with Eric Mathoho in the heart of defence.
Morgan Gould, who has not seen much action since recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, and Ivan Bukenya are the other good options.
Tinkler will rely on the likes of Mpho Makola, Thabo Rakhale and captain Thabo Matlaba to do the damage. Neither side will want to risk seeing the match go to penalties. While penalty shoot-outs add drama, they are never very satisfying.
Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs (FNB Stadium); Golden Arrows vs Milford FC (King Zwelithini Stadium); EC Bees FC vs Magesi FC (Buffalo City Stadium); Ajax Cape Town vs Free State Stars (Athlone Stadium, 6pm); University of Pretoria vs Polokwane City Rovers (Tuks Stadium, 8.15pm)