Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs Preview

Absa Premiership | Saturday 30 January | FNB Stadium | 15:30

The PSL will come to a stand-still on Saturday afternoon as Orlando Pirates play host to Kaizer Chiefs in the greatest rivalry known to South African football. The much-anticipated Soweto derby has all the looks to be a humdinger. With Pirates languishing in the bottom-half of the table and Chiefs eight points off the top of the log; maximum points is a matter of the utmost importance. 

To Win (90mins)
Orlando Pirates 2/1
Draw 2/1
Kaizer Chiefs 13/10

Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates fell to a disappointing 1-0 loss away to Jomo Cosmos last time out, making it their sixth league defeat this term, the same amount of losses they suffered throughout the whole of the 2014/15 season. Pirates, who missed a first-half penalty through Lehlohonolo Majoro, are 11th in the standings with 16 points from 14 games and seven above the drop zone. They will now face a stern test from their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs who remain unscathed on their travels. 

The Buccaneers have recorded just one victory from a total of four matches played this year, and Eric Tinklers chargers will be desperate to find the form which saw them reach the CAF Confederations final last year November. Pirates were supposed to fly up the Absa Premiership in 2016, with the weight of continental competition now off their backs, instead they have remained stuck in no-man’s-land, with the defeat to Jomo Cosmos making it just five points out of 12 in the new year. To make matters worse, three of those games have come against the league’s bottom three. Pirates did beat Tuks, but had to scramble back from 3-0 down to draw with Maritzburg United, before Saturday’s defeat in Potchefstroom. A loss to Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby could well spell the end for the beleaguered Pirates coach. 

The Bucs do have the players to match Amakhosi in every department. Thabo Rakhale has been a stand-out performer for his team this term with his dazzling tricks and flicks. He has great ability on and off the ball, and his quick feet and speed make him a constant threat on either flank. Issa Sarr will anchor the midfield. The 29-year old can turn defence into attack with his excellent long-range passing, hard-running and workmanship. Kermit Erasmus is the main danger man to watch. He plays with pace, flair and agility. Erasmus has a never give up attitude and his tireless running makes him invaluable to the teams game-play. 

Kaizer Chiefs

Kaizer Chiefs lost 2-1 to Platinum Stars in an open and enthralling Absa Premiership match at the Cape Town Stadium last Sunday afternoon, ending an unbeaten run of five matches. Camaldine Abraw opened the score in the first half, while the visitors scored twice after the break with a brace from Eleazar Rodgers. It was an unfortunate and undeserved loss in front of a fantastic crowd of about 20 000 spectators that supported the team throughout. Amakhosi, however, remain the only team undefeated on their travels this term, but registering just two wins from seven games on the road. 

Manager Steve Komphela’s less-than-flattering record as a coach has been questioned time and again but the ex-Maritzburg United coach insists he is the right man for the job.  Like Komphela said in February 2013: “Statistics are like a bikini, they don’t reveal everything.” And he has a point - the clubs he has managed don’t compare with the resources he has at his disposal at Chiefs. He has done well during his career, becoming one of the most respected coaches in local football. Amakhosi fans are used to winning silverware and Komphela will be expected to deliver the goods this season, especially with the players at his disposal. 

Siphiwe Tshabalala was again working hard and having a captain’s performance last time out after assisting Abraw’s well-taken header. Tshabalala is not just a great player with creativity and an eye for goals; he is a great leader as well, and when the team is down, he has the energy and attacking prowess to lift Chiefs single-handedly when push comes to shove. In the backline, Erick Mathoho and Lorenzo Gordinho are gelling well, keeping the defence tight and organised. Willard Katsande is likely to return to the starting line-up after being given just a place on the bench against Platinum Stars. Katsande is essential to Amakhosi’s possession based football. He is a workhorse in the centre of the park, breaking up play, while starting counter-attacks as well. Further up the pitch, Abraw will lead the line, and the 25-year old has done a top job in doing so thus far. He may be tall, but the Togolese footballer doesn’t lack pace; and his aerial ability is one of his finer traits. Abraw has a big presence and is a powerful player that thrives on crosses and set-piece plays.   

Probable line-ups:

Orlando Pirates: 4-4-2
Mhlongo; Gcaba, Gumede, Nyauza, Matlaba; Sarr, Makola, Rakhale, Qalinge; Erasmus, Gabuza 

Kaizer Chiefs: 4-5-1
Pieterse; Gaxa, Mathoho, Gordinho, Masilela; Katsande, Letsholonyane, Twala, Maluleka, Tshabalala; Abraw

Betting Verdict: Kaizer Chiefs 13/10
Pirates won the reverse tie 3-1 and Chiefs will be eager to avenge that defeat. It should be a tightly contested match as it usually is, and with both teams coming off defeats, the victory is all the more important. The Glamour Boys are tipped to claim the bragging rights with a much needed win.  

Written by Aaron Crowie