Thulasizwe Mbuyane compares Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns rivalry to Soweto Derby

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Pirates will entertain Sundowns in a high-stakes, highly anticipated Absa Premiership encounter at the Orlando Stadium this evening, as the season reaches fever pitch.

Apart from the match possibly having a massive say in the title race, with just three points separating the two sides on the current log standings, their rivalry has become worth noting in recent years.

In years gone by, “Juju” Mbuyane was a known tormenter of The Brazilians during his Bucs playing days, and believes the fixture is fuelled by the fact that the Tshwane outfit has long-since been out to emulate first South African club to win a Champions' League title.

“All sports are defined by their big rivalries and in South Africa, the football rivalry is defined by the Soweto Derby,” commented Mbuyane on Pirates’ official website.

“But I think, since Sundowns’ emergence over the years as one of the biggest clubs in the country, it was only natural that a strong rivalry would develop between these two sides. 

“I think that is because Orlando Pirates has paved the way to success and Sundowns has always been desperate to emulate and possibly try to surpass it.

“The rivalry, however, is intensified now that Sundowns has won a continental title, when Pirates were the only team locally that held it for a long time [1995 to 2016]. 

“The race to see who will get the second star first makes things exciting and the fact that this coming game could potentially decide where the league title is going means that everyone is up for it.”

The 35-year-old, who spent six years with Pirates before retiring shortly after joining Black Leopards in November 2014, has also called on the club’s supporters to come out in their numbers, as he believes this will help them overcome a tough Downs outfit. 

“It’s even in the stands before kick-off where you see that the rivalry is passionate and sometimes intense. With this being our home game, we need to have that stadium full to capacity,” he added

“I know from personal experience that players often channel the positive energy from the stands and you already start winning the game mentally which drives you to excel on the field.”