A Soweto derby that should come with an extra sizzle takes place at FNB Stadium this afternoon, as Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs resume their historic rivalry, with both sides well in contention in the Absa Premiership title race.
This is a game that often fails to live up to the hype around it. But not in the stands, where 90 000 supporters cram into the home of South African football nearly every time this derby takes place, a colourful splendour well worth a watch or a visit even for those who are not lovers of the beautiful game.
The problem is that the football has not matched the atmosphere in recent years, with both Chiefs and Pirates too often appearing too scared to lose – with all the public humiliation that goes with it – to go gung-ho for a win.
Five of the last six league derbies have ended in draws, three of those goalless, as tactics have taken charge instead of the wild abandon that would make this fixture a better spectacle for millions of viewers.
This afternoon, however, there can be little excuse for Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela or Buccaneers mentor Milutin Sredojevic to play with caution.
Pirates went into this weekend’s games in second place, four behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, while Chiefs were a point further back, and whatever happened to Sundowns against AmaZulu last night in Durban, the only result that should satisfy Chiefs or Pirates in their quest to win the championship is three points.
As a result, both may as well go for the throat from the off, risking defeat for the chance to become the prime challengers to Masandawana in this season’s title race.
One hopes they do, and that we see a thriller, because this derby has become a bit stale, and really could do with a game to match the passion that always surrounds it.