Cup meetings between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs have been all too rare in recent years but supporters of both clubs ? and neutrals ? will be in for a football feast when the Soweto giants clash in their Telkom Knockout semifinal at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Easter Monday.
The Soweto pair have met just twice outside of the league in the past ten seasons. The most recent match was the 2005/06 Absa Cup final ? also played in Durban ? that ended goalless after extra time and saw the Amakhosi claim the trophy on post-match penalties.
Prior to that the clubs met in the semifinal of the BP Top 8 back in the 2001/02 season and a famous Kenny Niemach goal saw Chiefs through to the final, where they went on to beat Mamelodi Sundowns on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Overall, the clubs have met 14 times in cup competitions since 1985. Chiefs have won seven games to Pirates? four and three matches have ended in draws. Only one game (the abovementioned Absa Cup final in 2006) has gone to penalties.
Yet a shootout could be a very realistic proposition if these two sides? league meetings are anything to go by. Both matches between the Soweto giants in the 2009/10 Absa Premiership ended in tame goalless draws.
This semifinal, however, has so much on the line that we are bound to see some excitement. The Buccaneers are desperate to break their long trophy drought, while Chiefs are under pressure to claim some silverware in the season that they celebrate their 40th anniversary.
Pirates have had arguably the easier path to this stage of the competition, defeating Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 in the first round and Jomo Cosmos 2-1 in the quarterfinals. The hero for the Buccaneers thus far has been young striker Ndumiso Mabena, who has scored a goal in each game thus far.
Yet despite Mabena?s promise, Pirates coach Ruud Krol will certainly be pleased to have Katlego Mashego back from suspension. The more experienced striker will be able to assist the youngster in this high-profile, high-pressure Soweto derby.
Chiefs have had to fight their way to the semifinals but are richly deserving of their place in the final four. The Amakhosi needed penalties to overcome Santos in Cape Town in the first round and then produced an excellent performance to down Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 away from home.
Coach Vladimir Vermezovic will hope young winger Mandla Masango can repeat the form that saw him hailed as the hero from Chiefs? win over the Brazilians, though the loss of Josta Dladla through suspension is a blow. Luckily the Phefeni Glamour Boys have a readymade replacement in Tinashe Nengomasha.