Soweto Derby: Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs - what makes the ultimate rivalry?

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Erick Mathoho and Abbubaker Mobara - Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates
Goals looks forward to one of the most famous derbies in world football as Amakhosi and the Buccaneers do battle on Saturday

163 previous competitive games played, 382 goals scored and a total of eight Premier Soccer League (PSL) titles between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, the Soweto Derby is without a doubt one of the biggest rivalries in world football.

But while goals, history and achievements set clubs apart, what makes the ultimate rivalry?

Kaizer Chiefs fans at the Soweto Derby match

All around the world, derbies take place on a regular basis.

However, there are some derbies that are just a little more illustrious than others where talk around the game dominate the back pages or in some cases even the front pages of the nation’s main newspapers.

TV and radio are both filled with content previewing the game, and no matter where you look, every fan, young and old, male and female are talking about the ‘big game’.

The El Clasico, Manchester Derby and Milan Derby, are all but a few of such games that have captured the imaginations of fans throughout the world, and the Soweto Derby is no different.

While South African football is not always known for attracting the biggest crowd, at least two times every season, the melting pot of SA football, the Calabash, is alive with the sound of Chiefs and Pirates fans singing their hearts out and cheering their team on.  

Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs

This is what the ultimate derby brings - passion, entertainment and more importantly determination from the players to not only grab the headlines but to give their fans something to boast about.

But in all honesty, the Soweto Derby has in recent years failed to live up to the hype. This was due to a number of factors.

Derby overkill was one as the clash has consistently been used to promote South African football and companies, but this has come at an expense.

Most notably though, a drop in the success of these two teams has had the biggest impact. It has been a while since both sides have triumphed and while fans continued to flock to the stadium, there seemed to be a bit eeriness as both sides did not have much to play for in previous years.

Nonetheless, with both Soweto giants looking to earn their place back at the top, the shine seems to have returned and the rivalry looks to be back.

Ramahlwe Mphahlele of Kaizer Chiefs with Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates

Meanwhile, an argument that has often been made is that the Soweto Derby is arguably the ‘friendlies derby in world football’.

Fans sit together and cheer on their teams side by side. This has perhaps had an impact on the players, who while relishing the opportunity to play in such a big game, seem to have a reluctance to show that much-needed fight and desire.

While there is certainly no greater sight in football than opposition fans showing respect for one another as football is not about hatred, a rivalry is all about passion.

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Listening to Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena as he addressed the media ahead of the game, the fans have every right to be excited for this game as the players and coaches seem to once again want to play for the badge and not the name at the back of the jersey.   

While the respect should always be maintained, Mokwena’s utterances are just what was needed to hype up the Soweto Derby, and although some may have seen it an being 'desrespectfu' towards the opponents or ‘arrogant’, it has undoubtedly added the much-needed spice to the game. 

What Mokwena has done has potentially breathed new life to the most anticipated fixture in South African football, and this should be an exciting affair between two clubs who have so much history between them.