Absa Premiership

Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs Preview | Saturday 29 February | FNB Stadium | 19:30

It’s a very long time since we have a second-leg Soweto Derby with so much at stake with both teams still well and truly in the title race. Kaizer Chiefs are top of the standings with a four-point gap ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns, while their opponent occupies third spot and trail Amakhosi by six points.

Most Orlando Pirates supporters will be confident that the gap will narrow to three points after this game considering the form they are in under Josef Zinnbauer. When the German tactician took over in December, Chiefs had a 17-point gap which is now just six and that’s exactly why the Pirates brigade should have every reason to believe.

This is the last chance of silverware this season for both these sides and the outcome of this fixture will have a huge impact on who endures yet another trophyless campaign.

This is not just any kind of fixture; this is the Soweto Derby – the biggest game in Africa. Normal systematics of form and momentum do not apply here.

To Win
Orlando Pirates 15/10
Draw 2/1
Kaizer Chiefs 17/10

Orlando Pirates

Winless in the last three Soweto Derbies, the Buccaneers will be hoping to regain the decent record they’ve had against their neighbours in recent seasons. Prior to this season’s defeat, Ezika Magebhula were unbeaten in 12 matches against Chiefs.

Under their German coach, Orlando Pirates have won seven out of eight league games, drawing one match, conceding just five goals, establishing themselves as the most feared and respected team this year. Gabadinho Mhango has rejuvenated under the guidance of Zinnbauer, scoring over 10 league goals. The brilliant form saw the pair walk away with Player and Coach of the Month for January.

Pirates are lagging behind Kaizer Chiefs by six points and have played a game extra. We are into the last phase of the season, and the Buccaneers are not showing any signs of slowing down.

Zinnbauer and his boys have no option but to win every game hereon if they are to have a shot at ending their seven-year wait. With the Buccaneers sporting impressive statistics at home, it looks like Kaizer Chiefs are in for a tough set of 90 minutes this Saturday. Orlando Pirates are in fine form at the moment and will be welcoming Amakhosi this week on the back of a six-match winning streak across in the league with their most recent victory coming against Black Leopards by a 1-0 scoreline.

It is also worth mentioning that the home team have not been on the losing end in regulation time in the top flight since their 3-2 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs, back in November. The Buccaneers will be sweating over the fitness of their central midfielder Ben Motshwari who is in his final phase of rehabilitation and Abel Mabaso who suffered a hamstring strain against Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup a fortnight ago.

Kaizer Chiefs

“Hang on, you’re almost there” will be the words from most Kaizer Chiefs supporters as they hold a four-point advantage going into the last 10 games of the season. Amakhosi have collected 45 points from 20 matches, losing just three and winning 14. Seven wins and two draws would be enough for Ernst Middendorp to be crowned Absa Premiership champion for the very first time ever.

Middendorp has done an amazing job to make Chiefs into a title-challenging team again though it seems like he’s now struggling to maintain what’s required to stay at the top. Since the beginning of this year, the Glamour Boys have won three, lost twice, and drawn the other from their six league matches, meaning Chiefs have dropped eight points from their last six matches and if this continues Middendorp will have to kiss his title hopes goodbye.

A win for Chiefs will not only end Pirates’ title hopes but it will instill some confidence back at Naturena, which is something they are lacking at the moment. Kaizer Chiefs are still a top team with top players and these are the same players who have scored 39 goals and conceded 16, so if Pirates undermine Chiefs because of their recent form, they will be in for a surprise.

Chiefs are very dangerous on set-pieces while Pirates have been vulnerable when defending crosses. The hosts are very creative and quick while chiefs are very slow defensively so this is most likely to be another high scoring game.

Amakhosi come into this match off the back of two defeats and playing extra-time on Saturday which will not help them considering their opponents were resting last weekend.

Prediction: Orlando Pirates (15/10)
Though both teams to score is a banker, it’s difficult to see how Orlando Pirates can lose this match especially with so much at stake. For the brave punters, I’d suggest backing a home win and both teams to score.

Banele Pikwa

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