High stakes in Saturday's Soweto Derby


To add to the tension, the outcome of the weekend’s Absa Premiership fixture - after their 2-2 draw in the first round - is bound to have far-reaching effects on both coaches and players.

However, having said this, the Derby has nothing to do with previous results or current position on the log table.

It’s simply special, and very unique to supporters of both clubs.

It’s about pride and bragging rights and that will add to the huge pressure already on coaches Owen da Gama and Muhsin Ertugral.

Orlando Pirates’ technical director and head of development Augusto Palacios, one of the few men to have coached both giants in the Derby, says he knows exactly what the coaches, technical team and players are going through right now.

“The mood is different; it’s about pride and passion but more importantly it’s about upholding the name of the brands which have taken many years to build,” he tells the club’s website.

“Although there are no special preparations for the match, the spirit is obviously very high in the camp and players do the unexpected at training to impress the coaching staff.

“During the match, one cannot put pressure on the players to win, but, they know what’s at stake. There is no extra motivation needed for the derby, you need arrogant, passionate, disciplined and committed soldiers for this fixture to survive the 90 minutes.

“The game is very tense, you need 100 percent focus and there is no room for mistakes. While it’s a great honour to win the derby, it’s a disaster to lose as it leaves you with embarrassment. The only thing you want to do after a defeat is go to the nearest corner to hide.

“You sometimes cry, you don’t eat and wish to get a second chance, that’s the reality of the derby, my friend!”

Palacios says he has very special memories coaching at Pirates (stand-in coach) and Kaizer Chiefs.

“I have worked with a lot of great players at both clubs who understood the importance of the derby. Here at Pirates, the ones who stood out for me were the likes of Benedict Vilakazi, Joseph Makhanya, Lebohang Mokoena, Okpara Williams, Edelbert Dinha, Philani Khubeka, Bheka Phakathi, OJ Mabizela, Josep Ngake, Jimmy Tau, Lucky Lekgwathi, and the late Lesley Manyathela and Gift Leremi.

“At Chiefs we had amongst others Shane McGregor, Scara Thindwa, Fani Madida, Lucas Radebe, William and Abel Shongwe, Pinto, Thabang Lebese, Doctor Khumalo, Ace Khuse, Rudolph Seale, Ntsie Maphike, Shakes Kungwane, Mark and Neil Tovey, Tshepo Molatedi and Howard Freese.

“I also shared the bench with greats such as Teenage Dladla and the late Ace Ntsoelengoe as my assistant-coaches.

“It was indeed a great experience and honour to coach both clubs at professional level. Every derby was very special and always remains a memorable event in my career.

“I cannot predict the winner of this weekend’s encounter, but I can assure people that it’s going to be one of the greatest games of the season considering both teams’ situation in the league,” Palacios adds.