“The battle is on,” Willard Katsande said at the press conference held on Thursday at the PSL office in Johannesburg ahead of Saturday’s Soweto Derby. “We are all committed to do what we have to do. We just have to apply the tactics the coach wants us to implement for this game.”
Coach Ernst Middendorp also spoke at the press conference. The German coached Kaizer Chiefs during his previous stint in charge of the Glamour Boys in three league Derbies and one cup Derby, not losing once.
Amakhosi beat the Buccaneers twice in a league match during the 2005/2006 season – winning 2-0 at home (Obua and Schalkwyk goals) and 1-0 away (Obua), while playing to a 1-1 draw (Bartlett) at home during the 2006/2007 season.
Chiefs beat their arch-rivals 5-3 on penalties in the 2006 Absa Cup final (the game had finished in a goalless draw).
Interestingly enough, Saturday’s opponent’s coach Milutin Sredojevic has also never been on the losing end of a Soweto Derby.
The two coaches actually faced each other during their previous stint at Chiefs (Middendorp) and Pirates (Sredojevic). That was the last Derby at the old FNB Stadium, before it was partly demolished and rebuilt for the 2010 World Cup.
That was the 1-all draw played on 9 December 2016. Pirates came up 1-0, before Shaun Bartlett equalised in the 89th minute. A month later, Bucs coach Sredojevic was fired.
“I have great memories of the previous Soweto Derbies,” Middendorp reflected. “And it was good to get the results as well.”
Chiefs have been struggling a bit in recent Soweto Derbies, but, as Katsande pointed out, the overall count is still far in Amakhosi’s favour. “We have won 67 of the 165 Derbies played since 1970, while Pirates only 41,” the Zimbabwean midfielder made clear.
When it comes to Saturday’s match, Middendorp would like to see more “bravery and focus. It’s asking every player to bring in what he has in his tank”.