Vermezovic, who is preparing for his first official Soweto Derby on Saturday, recalls his time as coach at Partizan Belgrade when they clashed with cross-town Red Star Belgrade.
Vermezovic has already played Orlando Pirates twice this season in the
four months that he has been in the country, in the Vodacom Challenge
and then the Telkom Charity Cup. But Super Saturday presents the real
deal for him, knowing that the AmaKhosi faithful want nothing less than
victory over their arch-rivals.
The Soweto Derby returns to its roots at Orlando Stadium after an
absence of more than two decades, and Veremezovic spiced up the preview
of this match by recalling the importance of the Belgrade Derby between
Partizan and Red Star.
“In my country the magnitude of the derby is the same as here. In
Serbia, it tends to be more important to the fans to win the derby
rather than the league title because of the intensity. So the derby
atmosphere is something that I understand,” said Vermezovic, according to Kickoff.com.
Though Chiefs picked up a morale boosting victory with the win over
Golden Arrows in mid-week that gives Chiefs a psychological edge,
Vermezovic says he can only do so much on the day.
“I don’t think players need any special psychological preparation for
the derby," he said. "Sometimes players cannot do on the field what the coach
tells them before the game because the stadium is full and the
atmosphere different. Yet sometimes players give more than 100 per cent
in that game because of the very same atmosphere. There is not so much
of a tactical input from the coach about that game.
“But I think the victory [against Arrows] gave us the psychological edge that we need ahead of the derby,” Vermezovic stated.
Vermezovic explained that in Serbia Partizan have less support than Red Star,
but on Saturday, Chiefs are likely to have more support in the stands
Research shows that some countries with a history of soccer hooliganism
have made strides in recent years to cut down on the amount of fan
violence associated with games, but in Belgrade, hooliganism still
thrives - especially in Red Star-Partizan clash that is known as the
Fan association with Partizan and Crvena Zvezda stretches
beyond the Belgrade city limits, as support for these two clubs exists
Not only that, allegiance to one club or another isn’t limited to
soccer - each organisation also has a basketball and a handball team,
and those derbies are just as tense.