Derby about more than the numbers

There isn’t a spare seat at the FNB Stadium for this afternoon’s derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

It is a situation we have come to expect in any head-to-head involving the Soweto giants.

The sheer weight of numbers of the fanatical supporters will undoubtedly add extra electricity to the skies over the iconic Calabash on the fringes of the sprawling township.

The fierce rivalry is woven deep into the very fabric of local football and is, in many ways, the driving force within the league.

It is a mark of any meeting involving two of the biggest clubs in Africa that the black and white of Pirates and the brilliant yellow of Chiefs will sharply delineate the divide that exists among supporters.

The roars of encouragement will come rolling down from the packed terraces and the ranks of raucous vuvuzelas will echo around the overhang.

It all adds to the excitement of an occasion, which does much to brighten the lives of soccer lovers in these fraught and economically straightened times – and this aspect is to be roundly applauded by anyone who has been touched by the dynamism of sport.

But the realities of today’s meeting would tend to show that the significance of the clash has less relevance than many would have us believe.

Chiefs had been racing away with the league until a midweek setback, inflicted by Platinum Stars at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, ended a 15-match unbeaten streak by the Phefeni Glamour Boys – proving they are, after all, fallible and can be beaten.

But while they still head the log, Chiefs enjoy a 10-point edge over the Buccaneers, who have gone through a phase of losing coach Roger de Sa and regrouping under new mentor Vladimir Vermezovic.

There is no gain saying the pedigree of either club or the talent which will be on display, and we would do well to remember this will be no ordinary game.

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