Soweto derby goes to Durban
September 29, 2010
For the first time in its three-year history, the MTN8 will feature two sides from the same city in the final, as Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows meet at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday evening, kick-off at 20h15.
With both teams looking to break long droughts in this competition, the coastal meeting could be something of a classic.
Pirates’ trophy drought is well documented: they last won the Top Eight cup back in 2000 when it was still known as the BP Top 8. This was also the last time they lifted silverware in a competitive cup competition.
Moroka Swallows, though they have won a couple of cup competitions in the past six years, have not tasted Top Eight glory in a whopping 31 years – that’s right, more than three decades have come and gone since the Birds last lifted the BP Top 8 back in 1979.
For the Buccaneers, the MTN8 final represents a second successive Soweto derby in the competition.
Pirates defeated arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 on aggregate over two hard-fought semifinal legs, both of which were played at the FNB Stadium.
After the first match ended 1-1, it seemed the Amakhosi held the upper hand thanks to their away goal. However, Pirates stunned the home team in the second leg with a late goal from Katlego Mashego to claim a famous 1-0 win and take the tie 2-1 on aggregate.
Mashego’s return was a timely boost for Bucs, offering coach Ruud Krol a classy alternative in attack after the physically-imposing Ezenwa Otorogu was unable to pierce the Chiefs backline, though he was certainly a handful due to his strength and surprising turn of speed.
Swallows will be hoping that ace striker Siyabonga Nomvethe is fit for the MTN8 final. The veteran, who picked up a wrist injury in the Birds’ semifinal second leg against Ajax Cape Town, has netted three goals in the competition thus far, making him the leading goal scorer.
The Birds showed impressive character in their 3-2 win over the Urban Warriors. When they let slip a two-goal lead to see the match tied at 2-2, Ajax looked destined to advance to the final on the away goals rule.
Yet Rainer Zobel’s team never gave up hope and when S’celo Zuma netted a later winner – his first in the maroon of Swallows – it was a deserved reward for a team whose self belief has grown in each match of the MTN8.
Pirates and Swallows have been regular combatants in cup competitions down the years. Since 1985, the Soweto duo have met 15 times in cup games – the Buccaneers have won six, the Birds five, and four have ended in draws.
Ten of those 15 cup games have been in the PSL era (1996/97 onwards) and the team in black and white has generally had the better of their rivals in maroon: Pirates’ record reads P10 W5 D2 L3 GF15 GA9.
Their most recent cup meeting was in the 2008/09 Telkom Knockout quarterfinal. Pirates claimed a thrilling 3-2 win thanks to goals from Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Dikgang Mabalane and Gilbert Mushangazhike.
The last time these sides met in the Top Eight cup was in the 2002/03 BP Top 8 quarterfinal when Pirates swept to a stunning 5-0 victory thanks to a hat-trick from Jimmy Kauleza and a brace from the late Lesley Manyathela.
These two teams have met twice in Top Eight cup finals, both of them pre-dating statistical records starting in 1985.
The 1974 BP Top 8 final saw Pirates defeat Swallows 7-6 on aggregate over two legs, while the 1979 BP Top 17 final saw the Birds claim some measure of revenge with a 4-2 aggregate triumph.