Home Sport Cricket Chiefs and Bucs in dress rehearsal for Soweto Derby

Chiefs and Bucs in dress rehearsal for Soweto Derby

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Thabang Monare of Orlando Pirates is challenged by Samir Nurkovic of Kaizer Chiefs during the 2021 Carling Black Label Cup match in August. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackapagePix

The outcomes of Tuesday’s DStv Premiership games will determine the mood in the camps ahead of Saturday’s Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

CAPE TOWN – It is Soweto Derby week and protagonists Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will lay down their markers in DStv Premiership matches on Tuesday as part of the week-long process of plotting each other’s downfall on Saturday.

Chiefs warm-up against unbeaten Stellenbosch FC at the Soweto Derby venue in what could be a “perfect” clash given the visitors’ all-conquering run in the opening eight rounds.

Later on Tuesday, 10km away at Orlando Stadium, Pirates host Sekhukhune United who are cock-a-hoop after their 10-man team defeated AmaZulu 2-0 recently.

The outcomes at the FNB Stadium and Orlando Stadium will determine the mood in the camps ahead of the derby. According to Chiefs midfielder, Anthony Akumu, the Kenyan international, the squad is upbeat after a miserable start to the season.

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“The team has been doing well and we are getting there because we are doing what the coach wants,” said Akumu, who has not commanded a regular place in the run-on XI.

“It does not matter whether you play or do not play. It is a matter of giving your best and helping the team get maximum points.

“Each team comes with different tactics and style of play. We have our own approach and tactics. I believe we are going to be victorious on the day.

“We are going to try and do the right things. We will follow instructions and be there for each other so we can win it for ourselves, our families, fans and everyone in the Kaizer Chiefs fraternity.”

There is also the small matter of individuals who would like to enhance their national team claims. Some may have designs on catching the eye of the national team coach Hugo Broos who will assemble the squad in the next few days to prepare for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Ghana next weekend.

There has been a marked upturn in the individual performances of long standing match winners Keagan Dolly and Bernard Parker. Dolly’s improved form has earned him a call-up to the national squad after he was ignored for the qualifiers last month.

He has been the backbone of the team that has secured back-to-back wins which have propelled Chiefs into the top half of the standings in sixth place, compared to the lowly 12th place 10 days ago.

The clash is shaping up as a six-pointer since Chiefs’ recovery process could take a dramatic turn if they grab all three match points on offer. It could take them into the Champions League zone, possibly a point or two adrift of the second-placed team.

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Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker said Chiefs have “turned the corner” and their confidence will be high.

“Chiefs will pose a big test because of their quality,” said Barker. “You can see by their recent results they have turned the corner and the squad has self-belief and confidence.

“There high-profiled players have started making an impact and it is something we have to take into account.

“It’s not only [Keagan] Dolly who has started to show his class but their whole midfield. We’ll have to keep an eye on Dolly because you can’t allow him freedom and time on the ball.”

ALSO READ: Pirates draw with Royal AM at Orlando Stadium

Seventh-placed Pirates have been struggling for form and have three draws on the trot. The third came against Royal AM at home last Thursday evening when they held on for a 1-all draw.

In stark contrast, Sekhukhune, two slots higher at No.5, have had three consecutive wins and have been impressive since their promotion to the top-flight league.

Pirates have several players on the injury list and co-interim coach Mandla Ncikazi said Pirates will be forced to draw personnel from the ranks of their Reserve squad.

In head-to-head stats, this will be the first meeting between Pirates and Sekhukhune in the Premiership League.

@Herman_Gibbs

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