Thursday Feb 23, 2023. 13:00
Orlando Pirates icon Benedict Vilakazi insists the Soweto derby remains the biggest fixture in the footballing calendar despite the recent struggles of South Africa’s most famous two clubs.
With Mamelodi Sundowns having dominated the domestic scene over the last decade and are on course to win their sixth consecutive DStv Premiership title this season, questions have been raised about the relevance of the high-profile matches between Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
Vilakazi, who featured in his fair share of derby encounters as a Buccaneer from 1999 to 2007, believes the table has no bearing on this particular fixture as bragging rights is all that matters for the players and fans alike.
“Look, these are big teams, whether they are fighting for a 15th place or whatever, when they meet, it is a totally different ball game,” the 40-year-old former Bucs midfielder told Sowetan.
“It doesn’t go with the position of the log. It goes on who is better than the other one. It is always going to be like that. So, it is not about the position on the log, they only care about pride.
“The pride is at stake. Pirates don’t want to be beaten by Chiefs and Chiefs don’t want to be beaten too. Pride is at stake now.”
Jose Riveiro’s side are viewed as the favourites for the 86th installment of the derby after winning four of their last five league games, with the Glamour Boys only managing one win in the same period and suffering a 3-2 defeat to Golden Arrows on Sunday.
Vilakazi also admits that form goes out of the window in these encounters and has expressed concern for his former team in Saturday’s clash at the FNB Stadium.
“It is something that I’m also scared of. I’m also worried about that. When you are a favourite, it is a problem because you end up being big-headed, thinking you have arrived and you have not,” he said.
“It will be a tough one because Chiefs lost to Golden Arrows and it is not like they were bad, they were not. They just gave Arrows the game.
“Pirates won their game and they have that confidence and they think they will beat Chiefs, but I’m telling you it is going to be a tough one.”