It’s a huge transformation for a team that finished outside the top eight last season
FOR A second week in a row, the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates delivered in terms of drama, entertainment and goals.
The two derbies – one in the Telkom Knockout and the other in the Absa Premiership – produced nine goals in entertaining duels that left fans on the edge of their seats.
This is what South African football fans have been crying out for: an entertaining derby where the teams give everything.
The change in these games being more entertaining of late comes from the desire of both teams to make up for their long barren runs.
Chiefs haven’t won a trophy since 2015, while Pirates were last champions in 2014.
It’s a desperate situation for the country’s two traditional powerhouses. This season, Chiefs look like they can change that, while Pirates have lost their stranglehold over Amakhosi and the tenacity that saw them finish league runners-up in the past two seasons.
Amakhosi sit comfortably at the summit with 28 points after 11 games.
Chiefs’ success is built on a solid defence where everyone gives their all, starting with the attacking trio of Khama Billiat, Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic. If the trio doesn’t deliver, there are Dumisani Zuma and Lebogang Manyama who also chip in with goals.
It’s a huge transformation for a team that finished outside the top eight last season.
At the heart of that transformation is hard work, fostered by coach Ernst Middendorp, who demands total commitment from his players, regardless of who they are.
Pirates need a similar transformation, such is the desperate nature of their season.
The club has only won two matches in their past 10 league games.
This season, which was meant to be one of delivery, with the club winning a trophy, has turned into a season of misery.
Coach Micho Sredojevic’s resignation threw the club into disarray. Rhulani Mokwena has to work twice as hard to turn things around, with the coach having been thrown into the deep end. How he responds to this challenge will shape his career.