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Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates

Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates: Who has a point to prove?

22:29 GMT+3 07/02/2019
Hendrick Ekstein
With the Derby arguably the biggest game on the South African football calendar, Goal looks at who has a point to prove

The Soweto Derby has often had the power to make and break players and coaches alike, and the 166th showdown between two of South Africa’s most beloved clubs is expected to be no different.

Matches like these are decided on very fine margins, as a moment of brilliance could be enough to see bragging rights move in either direction.

That is the beauty of the Derby - as a nation comes together only to be divided by their allegiance to a particular club.

However, while the stakes off the field are at an all-time high, on the field, the pressure is palpable. But for these few players and coaches, the Derby may have something a little more on offer.

Hendrick Ekstein

Since coach Ernst Middendorp took over at Chiefs, Ekstein has certainly come into his own.

For long, the 28-year-old was touted for greatness only to blow hot and cold.

But Ekstein is now showing glimpses of the type of performances that saw him shoot to stardom during his time playing in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge.

Nonetheless, having scored one goal and grabbed one assist in 14 league appearances this season, the Derby may just be his chance to shine, and if he is able to use his flair in a positive way, 90 000 fans will almost certainly be chanting his name.

Virgil Vries

Once the teamsheet is out, this player's selection or non-selection could lead to much debate.

Fans have grown frustrated with the Namibia international’s error-prone game that has seen him cost his side on a number of occasions already this season.

With Itumeleng Khune set to miss the clash through injury, one of Chiefs’ goalkeepers need to step up, and if Vries is called upon, he will have a lot to do in order to win over the Chiefs faithful and hold off competition from new signing Daniel Akpeyi.

Jackson Mabokgwane and Siyabonga Mpontshane

The battle between the pair for a starting berth could be just as intriguing, and with an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on the horizon and Khune likely to miss the match, a stellar performance by any one of the goalkeepers could see them drafted in when Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter announces his squad.

Mabokgwane may also have another point to prove if given a chance considering that he has never been involved in a league meeting between the two teams.

Xola Mlambo

The Orlando Pirates midfielder has been one of Bucs best performers since joining the Soweto giants. But there are still those who have not been too convinced by his exploits.

A stellar performance from the 27-year-old in the Derby could be just what is needed for him to shoot to stardom and win over any of his detractors.

Ernst Middendorp

Lastly, the Derby brings into the spotlight Chiefs’ German coach.

Middendorp is no stranger to the Derby having experienced it in his first stint. But things have certainly changed at Naturena since his previous spell, and all eyes will be on him and whether or not he can achieve something two of his predecessors (Steve Komphela and Giovanni Solinas) were unable to achieve -beat the Buccaneers. 

Chiefs' last league Derby win came in 2014, and this might tempt the 60-year-old to stick to his guns and refrain from tinkering too much with what has been a relatively successful system so far.