The Soweto Derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs is billed as one of the world’s biggest football rivalries (the third biggest according a fellow supporter during the walk to FNB stadium) and ranks alongside the likes of Real Madrid-Barcelona and Rangers-Celtic, amongst others.
This was my first time attending this famous contest, and I was looking forward to the experience. ‘El Kasico’ (kasi is the slang term for townships in South Africa) is historically one of the most highly anticipated matches of the football calendar.
The pre-game hype more than met expectations with a carnival-style atmosphere wherever you looked. The fans and supporters go all out with all sorts of creative outfits, hats and makarapas. The vuvuzelas are out in full force and I’m constantly amazed at how people can make these plastic horns into genuine musical instruments. The walk to the stadium is festive and upbeat, and there is a good mix of people of all ages and sexes throughout.
From my perspective, the only problem with the derby was the standard of football once the game started. There was a vociferous appeal for a penalty from the Chiefs contingent early in the game, which was ignored by the referee. We were up in the nose bleeds, so couldn’t really comment on whether or not it was genuine. That was the highlight of the first half, as both sides huffed and puffed with very little end product. Chiefs looked happy to soak up the pressure and allow Pirates to dominate the ball.
The second half was better in terms of attacking intent, but overall the quality was still lacking in the final third. Tshabalala hit the crossbar for the Glamour Boys and Myeni did the same for the Bucaneers via a deflected shot, but the match stats tell the story of the game – both teams had 2 shots on target over the 90 minutes. That sums up the main problem with the game – 4 whole shots in 90 minutes is desperately poor for two of the country’s premier teams. But I guess there is a bit of self-preservation as neither team wants to lose such a historically significant game.
A great experience overall, but the football was of a disappointing standard.
See below for Derby Day in pictures.
The journey to Soweto started off with a spot of carbo-loading from the popular and expanding franchise Chesa Nyama to get into the spirit of things. As their slogan promised, the food was ‘nyamalicious’.
We drove down to Soweto (surprisingly very little traffic – helps to be early!) found our prearranged parking and proceeded to the local watering hole to quench our thirst.
Before we knew it, time for the short walk to the stadium.
The supporters are locked and loaded.
The hordes of fans en route to the stadium.
The game is not complete without the mandatory vuvuzela (now banned in several European countries).
It’s all about the right name on the back
Inside the theatre
Game over. Let’s head out.
On our way out