The original Soweto derby will roll into town on Tuesday night when Orlando Pirates welcome Moroka Swallows in the oldest rivalry in South African football history.
Kick-off at the Orlando Stadium is at 7.30pm.
This much anticipated DStv Premiership fixture carries huge doses of nostalgia with it, as matches between the Birds and Bucs back in the day were like cup finals. And the Orlando Stadium was the main host of these derby clashes in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Orlando, aka “Esgodini sa’ka Maminzela”, is once again the venue for the clash. So, fireworks can be expected as both Pirates and Swallows are desperate for points, more so maximum points.
Pirates, the host, have been more cold than hot, judging by their last five matches. The Buccaneers have registered two wins, two draws and a loss – forfeiting seven points in the process. To their credit, the team is unbeaten in their last three league matches but lies in lowly 9th spot.
They will also go into the match on Tuesday with some of their key players still hobbling from injuries.
Head coach Jose Riveiro will not be able to call upon the services of midfielder Thabang Monare, who is suspended for the clash. Monare was red-carded in Pirates’ last league match against Richards Bay on November 25.
There have however been some positive developments on the injury front. Makhehleni Makhaula has recently resumed training after a brief spell on the sidelines while Innocent Maela and Sipho Chaine are among those nearing full recovery.
Opportunity for experienced pair
For Swallows, an opportunity could present itself for experienced players such as Tlakusani Mthethwa and Junaid Sait, who have both been absent from the starting line-up over the past few weeks.
Swallows, on the other hand, are better placed on the log on the 6th spot. However, their record in the last five matches is similar to Pirates in the sense that they won two, drew two and lost one match. Their loss was in their last match, 1-0 against visiting Kaizer Chiefs.
In their last match, the Buccaneers dropped two points drawing 0-0 away to Richards Bay at King Zwelithini Stadium. The stalemate followed back-to-back 1-0 wins against Sekhukhune United and Chiefs, results which saw them briefly enter the top eight.
Tonight both teams cannot afford blunders. If Swallows win they solidify their place in the top eight by rising to 4th with 21 points. However, a loss will see Bucs take over their 6th place on the table, with 19 points. Therefore, no prisoners shall be taken in this derby war for the three points at stake.