ABSA Premiership

Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs | Saturday 3 March | FNB Stadium | 15:30

It’s the biggest, the baddest, and the most anticipated game of the season! Yes, you guessed right! Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs do battle in the final Soweto Derby of the league campaign. This is arguably the most crucial derby between these two sides in a very long time. Unlike previous ties where there is not much to fight for, apart from bragging rights, now there is talk of both teams challenging for the title. For Pirates, it’s about distancing themselves away from Chiefs, while Amakhosi will be looking to leapfrog their opponents into second place. Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has certainly got the Ghost Ship sailing the sea of wonder, while Steve Komphela, despite receiving tons of criticism, finds his side unbeaten since the start of 2018 – the only team to hold that record.

To win (*forecast betting)
Orlando Pirates 16/10
Draw 19/10
Kaizer Chiefs 18/10

Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates will be gunning for their fourth straight win in all competitions when they square off with local rivals, Kaizer Chiefs, at the FNB Stadium this Saturday. In that run, Bucs have played some of their most exciting football to date.

Of course that is down to coach Micho and his assistant, Rhulani Mokwena. The pair have sprung life back into Pirates fans, outsmarting the opposition in almost every department of the pitch. When Micho first touched down in Mzansi, he gloated about his experience in some of the biggest derbies on the continent.

“I am a lucky coach because I have coached in five big derbies around the continent. The biggest derby of Uganda – SC Villa v Express, in Ethiopia: Coffee FC v St George, in Tanzania: Young Africans v Simba FC, in Sudan: Al Hilal v El Merreikh… all teams that play in the Champions League,” he said.

Unlike most derbies in the country, this one has certainly not been one-sided, instead, it’s been split straight down the middle, with majority of the sides’ recent matches ending in draws, including the last three in a row.

Justin Shonga, who has been banging in goals for fun, has spoken about participating in his first Soweto Derby, while also admitting to pay more attention to it when Isaac Chansa and Collins Mbesuma were apart of it – for obvious reasons, being Zambian.

“The derby is big all over the world. I started following it more when Chansa & Mbesuma were playing. As Zambians we were proud of them playing in such big games,” Shonga said.

“As players we are working hard towards getting the right result, not so much for the derby but overall. Because we want to do well for the fans and for the badge,” he concluded.

The derby is often criticised for being low-scoring and boring, but with Shonga is red-hot form, the Bucs faithful will be confident he can spur them on to victory.

Kaizer Chiefs

Despite Orlando Pirates going through a great run of form, this is, for me, the worst time to play Kaizer Chiefs. The Glamour Boys have shown in the past that just when you think it’s all doom and gloom and there is no way they can win, against all odds, Amakhosi find a way on top.

Against table-toppers, Mamelodi Sundowns, in the first half of the season, the footballing world had doubted Chiefs, expecting a one-sided affair against the two sides. Except for me, of course. Somehow, the bones never lie when I predict Kaizer Chiefs matches.

Steve Komphela, who gets almost as much criticism as Victor Gomes, often uses these sort of clashes to use his ‘get out of jail free card’. The Chiefs boss did hint at attacking the game, but my honest opinion says it’s all mind games.

“From an attack point of view‚ both teams will be very offensive,” Komphela said.

“The set up in terms of pressing … it is going to be a pressing game. We might even move to a state where there is going to be chaos pressing.

“Whoever has the ball is pressed and as soon as they lose the ball they press. It will be a game where nobody give space‚ gives time,” he concluded.

There’s no arguing that Chiefs have the players with the right skill and quality to attack, however, their 3-4-3 formation alone indicates that it is not the route they are opting to go with.

It’s a very tactical approach, which is based on counter-attacking football. Chiefs are quick on the break, and for me, surprisingly, Itumeleng Khune is the most important piece of the puzzle. The 30-year old goalkeeper has been one of Chiefs’ star performers this season and is one of the favourites to give Percy Tau a run for his money for the PSL Player of the Season award.

Khune’s distribution out from the back is often what leads to their attack, while he has the best defensive record in the ABSA Premiership this season. He has kept many clean sheets against Pirates in the past, and another one will stretch Amakhosi’s unbeaten run to 11 games across all competitions.

Probable line-ups:

Orlando Pirates: 4-2-3-1
Mabokgwane; Jele, Nyauza, Dube, Maela; Munetsi, Nyatama; Memela, Lorch, Morrison; Shonga.

Kaizer Chiefs: 3-4-3
Khune; Cardoso, Ngezana, Mphahlele; Molangoane, Maluleka, Katsande, Zulu; Tshabalala, Moon, Castro.

Prediction: Moon To Score First And Chiefs Win (8/1)
As mentioned before, Chiefs are most dangerous when they’re the underdogs. I tend to do well when predicting matches involving Kaizer Chiefs and I’m confident here again. When Komphela’s men need a goal, they look to the Moon, and I fancy him to continue his excellent scoring run. Back Ryan Moon to Score First and Kaizer Chiefs to Win at a whopping 8/1!

Jesse Nagel

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