“It’s going to by my first Soweto Derby as a coach,” gushes an optimistic Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach, Shaun Bartlett. “I hope to help make sure we can be on the winning side and get the three points. Our performances have been really good thus far.”
On whether he believes his charges are ready for the battle on Saturday, 9 February 2019, the former striker explains that it is a matter of fine-tuning the team.
“I just have to make sure as a coach that I instill that confidence in the player’s mind, because the Derby can be very stressful for players and they put unnecessary pressure on themselves. They’re scared to make mistakes whereas in football you’re always going to make mistakes.”
Bartlett, of course, is no stranger to the Derby and pressure situations. “The Soweto Derby is one of the biggest derbies in the world,” reflects Bartlett. “The most memorable moment for me was getting the equalising goal at the old FNB Stadium.”
The late goal on 9 December 2006 not only cancelled out Benedict Vilakazi’s early goal, it was also the last goal scored at the old FNB Stadium before it underwent renovations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Bartlett withstood mounting pressure to salvage a point from the jaws of defeat.
Already a Bafana Bafana legend at the time, Bartlett cemented his place as an Amakhosi legend with that headed effort but that was not the first time he had netted in the Derby. Bartlett wasted no time by opening his Soweto Derby account five minutes into the match in the 2006 Vodacom Challenge en route to a 2-0 win in Rustenburg.
Amakhosi supporters will also fondly remember how he beat Pirates’ Destin Makita for pace and drilled in a low ball for David Mathebula to net the solitary goal in a 1-0 win in a league encounter in May 2008.
“Those Derby memories such as assisting David Mathebula in Mmabatho in 2008 and that goal at the old FNB Stadium are things I will always treasure,” continued the mentor, who together with head coach Ernst Middendorp have brought back the battle-ready mindedness needed for the huge occasions.
“The coaches’ job will be done come Saturday and it will be up to the players to produce. The little impact we can have as coaches is making substitutions. The work is pretty much done by Friday and then it’s up to the players to go out and display their talent and show why they’re part of Kaizer Chiefs.”