“The Soweto Derby is South Africa’s biggest game,” Leonardo Castro raves about Saturday’s Absa Premiership fixture against Orlando Pirates. “No other game comes even close.”
The 29-year-old striker loves the big occasion. “I don’t feel any nerves,” Castro talks about his feelings upon entering the FNB Stadium just before the game kicks off with about 90 000 enthusiastic spectators in the stands. “It’s pure enjoyment.”
The Colombian striker has so far played in three Derbies, netting twice. His first Derby came on 3 March 2018, about two months after having joined Kaizer Chiefs. Castro scored the equaliser, before the Buccaneers went on to edge Amakhosi, 3-1. He also netted in the most recent Derby, the Telkom Knockout semi-final on 24 November 2018. It was again the equaliser, but it wasn’t enough to go through, losing out 2-1.
“I barely sleep after having lost a game,” Castro admits. “I keep thinking, ‘What should we have been done differently?’But you also need to move on, you can’t get stuck in a disappointing moment.”
About Saturday’s Derby, the striker comments: “It’s a must-win Derby, also because we want to get closer to the top of the log.”
Chiefs are in sixth position on the Absa Premiership table, with 27 points from 19 matches. Pirates are in second spot with 32 points from 18 games.
Castro is happy with the arrival of coach Ernst Middendorp in December 2018. “We have improved a lot since he joined. We are training hard and are very motivated to do well.”
The Chiefs attacker also calls on the Amakhosi supporters to stand behind the team at FNB Stadium on Saturday, 9 February (kick-off is at 15:30). “We need your support – you are the player number 12. Be that 12th man. We would like you to back us for the full 90 minutes.
“To see and hear you cheering us on, especially in a full stadium, is so enormously motivating. That’s when, as a player, you want to be at your best. Let’s win Saturday’s Derby together.”
Tickets for the Soweto Derby are selling fast. The costs of tickets are R100 for Level 1, R150 for Level 2 and R70 for Level 5. Tickets can be bought at Computicket and Shoprite/Checkers outlets nationwide. Parking is free in designated areas.