Five reasons why Kaizer Chiefs will beat Orlando Pirates
Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs write the latest chapter in the rich history of the Soweto derby at the FNB Stadium with a vital Absa Premiership on Saturday afternoon.
It is likely to be another tense tussle between two sides in good form in recent weeks‚ but TimesLIVE picks out five reasons why Chiefs will be victorious in the 163rd meeting between the two clubs.
1. King Khune
It is hard to accurately say how many points goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has won for Chiefs this season‚ but it is easily as many‚ if not more‚ than their strikers.
The country’s undisputed number one has been in superb form this campaign‚ keeping clean sheets in 15 of the team’s 25 games in all competitions‚ and has conceded just once‚ against BidVest Wits‚ in the last five games.
They say that goalkeepers peak at the start of their 30s and Khune is right in that zone. It is hard to think of when he has been in better form and is arguably the most important name on the Chiefs team sheet.
He has the potential to be a match-winner against a Pirates who have found their scoring groove of late.
2. They have to be positive
Chiefs have been too cautious in past Soweto derby matches‚ the fear of defeat overwhelming the desire to take risks and go for a win.
But as we enter the final few months of the season‚ the time for caution is gone and as Amakhosi not only chase a derby victory‚ but also seek to hang onto the coattails of Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the Absa Premiership table.
Eleven draws in 22 league games this season tells its own story of a team that battles to finish off opponents‚ and another one in this fixture may realistically end their titles hopes‚ with Sundowns expected to produce a typically strong finish to the season.
Coach Steve Komphela is without an outright victory over Pirates in his near three-year stay at Naturena – just a penalty shootout win in the Telkom Knockout in 2015 – and he will be desperate to change that statistic.
Amakhosi have to seize the initiative and be positive‚ while keeping their usual excellent organisational structure.
3. Moon light
He may be the least experienced of Chiefs’ strikers by some distance‚ but Ryan Moon has shown in recent weeks he is a player in form and an excellent poacher in the box.
Even he might not have expected to play as many minutes as he has in the last few months‚ but a combination of injuries to others and a weight of five goals in his last seven games has seen him rewarded by coach Komphela.
Confidence for any player is a huge asset‚ and when strikers get on a roll and feel top of their game‚ it is difficult to leave them out whatever the circumstances.
Moon is among the form forwards in the Absa Premiership and although he can be wasteful at times‚ you wouldn’t bet against him adding to his recent tally.
4. Chiefs are due one
Never before have Chiefs gone so many games without an outright victory over Pirates‚ with their barren run now stretching to eight matches.
They have been unlucky in that time and you feel that some fortune is due their way in what is essentially a ‘home’ game given that it will be played in their usual stadium that the players are very familiar with.
Given that there have been no league victories for the side listed as ‘home’ in this fixture in six years‚ Chiefs are also on the right side of that oddity.
Amakhosi can also look back on a 10-game unbeaten run dating back to early December‚ which is something they can draw confidence from.
5. Siphiwe Tshabalala
"Shabba" might have lost a yard of his pace of old‚ but his wits and guile are still very much in evidence as he prepares for what would be his 31st Soweto derby appearance if he takes to the stage on Saturday.
It is almost certain he will‚ although perhaps from the bench‚ and his ability to unlock defences and keen eye for goal make him a real threat to the Buccaneers.
In a game that could be quite frenetic‚ his level head and excellent decision-making are an asset to Chiefs‚ while just his aura and experience in the buildup to the game would have been invaluable this week.