For many years, the Tshwane Derby has been forced to play second fiddle to the more hyped-up Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
While the encounter between the Soweto giants has attracted fans in their numbers across the African continent, matches between Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United have been known for producing entertainment of the highest level.
This year’s edition is expected to be no different and considering the fact that Masandawana are now continental champions and both sides are still in contention for the league title, the match promises more fireworks.
Historically, Sundowns have been the stronger of the two opponents. The Tshwane giants have met on 32 occasions, with the Brazilians claiming 17 victories in the process. SuperSport have only claimed nine wins.
While in recent years Sundowns have been the Premier Soccer League (PSL) golden boys, the gap has narrowed as Stuart Baxter has created a squad worthy of winning any title.
Since the departure of Gavin Hunt following his three seasons of PSL success, SuperSport have been deprived of league glory, but the arrival of Baxter has sparked new life into the SuperSport team, but he will come against an equally respected coach in Pitso Mosimane.
Things might not be going for Mosimane and his charges at the moment, having just two of their last nine matches in all competitions, but the quality and depth in the Sundowns' team cannot be overlooked
The significance of any derby around the world is the bragging rights, but on Thursday night, the winners will claim more than just that, as the league title is at stake for both teams. The clash also brings with it an interesting battle off the field.
The rivalry between the two has taken a sour turn off late, following the ridiculous dugout squabble at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in 2016, and this could be another way of getting revenge from Baxter by winning at all costs.
Mosimane and Baxter have many similarities, most notably, they have both been Bafana Bafana coaches, though, unsuccessfully so.
Nonetheless, the two coaches have learnt from their past mistakes and have gone on to dominate the South African football and are regarded as two of the most attack-minded coaches in the PSL due to their desire to always win games.
With Baxter being touted for the vacant Bafana position, Mosimane may have a point to prove, but it must be noted that the 52-year-old has never completely had the better of Baxter, even during his time at Amakhosi.
Sundowns have already claimed victory over Matsatsantsa in this season’s MTN 8 before collapsing at the final hurdle, losing to Bidvest Wits in the final in Mbombela.
The Tshwane Derby has goals in it, and goals will be expected as the two sides who possess the leagues strongest attacks face off against each other.
Unlike the Soweto Derby which usually turns into a snore fest, the Tshwane Derby is made for the football enthusiast. Talk off the field is limited but action on it is always at its maximum. But goalless draws are not completely unheard of during in this encounter, and one cannot rule it out completely when predicting the final score.
Derbies have taught us that form and history count for nothing, and both Sundowns and SuperSport United should forget about their previous results and focus on getting the job done on the day.