“I am more nervous now than during my playing days,” comments Kaizer ‘Chincha Guluva’ Motaung about the upcoming Soweto Derby.
The Kaizer Chiefs Chairman explains, “I can’t play anymore, so I must rely on the guys on the pitch. When I was still playing, I looked forward to the opportunity to score. That’s no longer an option, which means that I no longer have any direct influence on the outcome of the game.”
He adds that, as a player, he was never nervous before a Soweto Derby, “And if there were any nerves, they were gone the moment I had the first contact with the ball. Thereafter, I would block out everything else. I didn’t even hear the noise of the crowd. I was totally focussed on the game.”
“The Soweto Derby is more than a football match,” he continues. “There are so many emotions involved, especially for our supporters. It’s a fierce competition for superiority.”
Motaung recalls how much is at stake, which was especially the case during the early days of the Soweto Derby after he and some other players had broken away from Orlando Pirates to form Kaizer Chiefs on 7 January 1970.
“People didn’t think we would survive as a club,” he looks back on the early days of the Glamour Boys. “It was about life and death, looking at our history and where we came from. There was so much acrimony in those days, especially when the Soweto Derby took place. That’s also why we came up with the slogan, Love & Peace.”
Some of the present players don’t always understand the importance and the history of the Derby and the club. “Playing a Derby was all about excitement. Everybody wanted to shine in the Derby. I do indeed think that the Derby doesn’t hit the present players as it used to hit us,” admits Motaung.
However, he strongly feels that it’s an incorrect observation that the Derby has lost some of its sparkle. “The game has evolved, it has become more scientific and it has also become more tactical. The training methods are different and the players have become physically stronger. That has changed the game of football. It is simply a mistake to think that the sparkle of the Soweto Derby is gone.”
Motaung used to be one of the stars in Derbies played in the 70s, usually finding the back of the net. Another player who always performed brilliantly in a Soweto Derby was Patrick ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe. “I can’t remember Ace not being in top form for a Derby. A Derby was the prime opportunity to showcase our skills.”
According to Motaung the best players are those who can raise their game in the Derby. He mentions a few players over the years who were able to do that. “I can’t mention them all, but Teenage Dladla was always great in the Derby as well as Marks Maponyane, Fani Madida, Jabu Pule… In recent times Siphiwe Tshabalala and Itumeleng Khune were always shining.”
About Saturday’s game, Motaung says, “It’s a tough one for us, also because we want to keep up with the top two-three sides on the league table. Orlando Pirates are presently in a better position going into the Derby. However, that’s also the making of the Derby – current form doesn’t matter. It’s all about the performance on the day.
“The Derby is not only about winning three points, it’s also about continuing our legacy. We have won 67 of the 155 Derbies played since 1970, while Pirates won 41. It means that Pirates are still far behind.”
“A Derby is so much more than just a game. It’s about believing in yourself. It’s about understanding that this game brings many emotions. It’s the biggest game of the year and the only match that divides the country, parliament and families. Even Mamelodi Sundowns and AmaZulu supporters talk about the Derby during the week leading up to the game.”
Motaung, of course, is looking for a win. “Besides the three points at stake, it’s more about giving back to our supporters. We know what a victory will mean to our supporters.”