Finally, after more than a few years where cup supremacy (which I will grudgingly concede belongs to Kaizer Chiefs) and pride were the only things to be played for, the old Soweto rivals, Chiefs and Pirates, will square off in a match that means something beyond just the respective fans’ moods when they go to work on Monday.
Both teams lie second and third on the log and, bar a shocking dip in form, should find themselves in the same position when they meet on May 2. With both clubs breathing heavily down SuperSport United’s neck at the top of the table, this will be a veritable six-pointer. Exciting times and something for the supporters to sink their teeth into finally.
So now all the talk will not just be hype-building cliché, passion and loyalty will truly be tested. And of course, this is where legends will be born. Remember Dennis Lota? He did not have the best scoring record for Bucs but he scored in important ties versus the Old Enemy, ditto Jerry Sikhosana, Andries Sebola and many others. It’s not always what you do FOR the Black and White but rather what you do TO the gold and black circus that decides where the fans place you in club folklore.
So who will step up and be counted this time? Teko Modise has been the mighty Buccaneers’ outstanding player since he joined last season but so far his heroics have not brought them much in the way of silverware. Bucs came close enough in the Absa Cup losing narrowly against the Urban Warriors, Ajax Cape Town, but ultimately, almost does not count. It is not the Pirates way. In the league Modise has been head, shoulders and (at least) shorts above the rest of the PSL, both in game changing displays and overall consistency.
Add to that his burgeoning partnership with Katlego Mashego (another gift from SSU) and Kabelo Mabalane, and the Bucs have the attacking axis that should lead them to that long, elusive league crown. Recent form has been hugely impressive, two-nil wins are becoming de rigueur and Teko is an ever-present on the scoresheet when not setting up others for glory.
The omens are good. But then again, this is the Big One and the formbook has been known to be treated with less regard than morals at a Mardi Gras. Remember Senzo Meyiwa keeping Chiefs at bay with shot-stopping heroics in the first round? That has since been proven to be something of a fluke by his dismal subsequent efforts. But on that day he’d been giving Itumeleng “King” Khune many a nightmare over losing his Bafana number one jersey.
Chiefs are not yet playing to their best, but crucially for a team with Championship ambitions, they have been winning regardless. Which indicates that, should they finally click and play some coherent football, they will be near unstoppable. Of course this all depends on whether their irascible coach Muhsin “Mshini” Ertugral can keep his head long enough to survive the season with his job intact.
There’s still more than 5 weeks to go for sure and a lot could change. Teko may yet prove to be a mere mortal like us all. Chiefs could find that missing ingredient, SuperSport could build up an insurmountable lead at the top, Sundowns could get their act together and work their way up the table (excuse me while I try fight the laughter in my head) anything is still possible.
Time will tell. But until then, we Happy People shall believe.