Why Kaizer Chiefs are favourites against Orlando Pirates in Carling Black Label Cup

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Kaizer Chiefs have a couple of things going for them that may give them the edge in Sunday's Carling Black Label Cup match against Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium.

Things had been looking pretty miserable for Chiefs back in January when they suffered a 2-1 league defeat to Pirates, having also been beaten by their old foes 5-0 on aggregate over two legs of the MTN8 semi-finals a few months before that.

Injuries, the transfer ban, poor form, bad luck and some self-inflicted misery in the form of glaring errors had seen Amakhosi floundering in the first few months of 2021.

But, quite a lot has changed since then, and there's finally a glimmer of hope ahead for the long-suffering Amakhosi faithful.

Kaizer Chiefs warm up FNB Stadium

Firstly, they were able to get one over Bucs in the return match in the league, a Samir Nurkovic goal back in March securing a 1-0 win.

Then there was a late flurry of positive league results that saw the team claiming a top-eight spot, when at one point they were closer to the relegation zone.

Of course, there was also the magical run all the way to the Caf Champions League final, and even if the final was lost to Al Ahly, the continental campaign would surely have added confidence, unity and experience to the squad.

The final in Casablanca also came just two weeks ago, while Pirates last played on June 5, their final domestic league match.

And so while Chiefs could face the problem of fatigue later in the season, not having enjoyed a proper break, their players should be in match-fit condition, having played so recently, unlike Bucs.

The positive recent signings made will also have lifted spirits around Naturena and should also drive those in the starting XI on to greater heights as competition for places increases.

Then there’s the fresh energy that a change of coaches has brought; Arthur Zwane played a crucial role in the weeks after Gavin Hunt’s departure in May, and now Stuart Baxter will be hungry to mark his return to the club with a win in the derby.

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The Brit will understand the momentum and feel-good factor that victory could bring – for all Chiefs’ superb efforts in the Champions League, there will also be a lingering sense of disappointment which needs to be put right, and victory against Amakhosi’s old Soweto rivals could certainly help achieve that.

And it’s also worth noting that Baxter enjoys a good record when coaching Chiefs against the Buccaneers: in nine matches he’s lost just once, winning three and drawing five.

Add all these factors together and there’s a good case to be made for the gold and black half of Soweto triumphing in Orlando.