Most memorable Soweto Derby encounters of the PSL era

Most memorable Soweto Derby encounters of the PSL era
Fans during the Carling Black Label Cup semifinal between Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on 12 November 2022 in Johannesburg. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

The Soweto Derby returns for another chapter of its storied history, which dates back to 1970. Daily Maverick picked four encounters that stood out over the past 27 years, which form the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era.

It’s one of the marquee events on the South African sporting calendar. Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, the two teams who have contested for bragging rights in the Soweto Derby encounter since 1970, have played second fiddle to Mamelodi Sundowns over the past 10 years or so.

Nevertheless, the derby is still the place to be for many South Africans. Sports fanatic or not. It is a social gathering for all creeds and kinds. Regularly seeing the designated venue for the derby, the 90,000-capacity FNB Stadium, packed to the rafters.

It’s likely to be the same story when the two teams tussle once more on Saturday, 11 November in Johannesburg. Derbies in recent years have been cagey affairs, with little to celebrate in the way of goals.

The last time the two sides butted heads was in May during the Nedbank Cup. During that match, Pirates needed extra time to record a 2-1 win over their bitter rivals.

It proved an inspired decision with KwaZulu Natal-born Chiefs striker Mabhuti Khanyeza opening the scoring within 19 seconds of kick-off. To this day, it remains the earliest goal to be scored in a Soweto Derby.

In the DStv Premiership, recent bragging rights belong to Amakhosi. They have five wins from seven recent encounters. Two matches have ended in 0-0 draws.

Pirates’ hunger to end their winless run, as well as Chiefs’ pursuit to preserve their winning run, is sure to make the encounter an exciting one.

Though the first derby was played in 1970, when Chiefs was just a few weeks old, there have been a few memorable clashes between the two sides in the PSL era. That is from 1996 until now.

Daily Maverick examined four memorable tussles between two of the most supported clubs in South Africa over the past 27 years:

Mlungisi Gumbi and Mabhuti Khanyeza during the semifinal Telkom Charity Cup match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at Mmabatho Stadium in Mafikeng, on 4 August 2007. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Orlando Pirates 4-1 Kaizer Chiefs (1996): Legs of Thunder strikes

This encounter stands out for a plethora of reasons. Not least the fact that it was the last time that any player was able to bag a hat-trick of goals in the Soweto Derby.

There has been a scattering of braces along the way. However, since Jerry “Legs of Thunder” Sikhosana blasted in a trio of goals during BoB Save Super Bowl (now Nedbank Cup) semifinal vs Amakhosi, no player has managed the feat.

In that game, the Buccaneers were in perfect harmony. With their feet, they sang songs that hypnotised the Glamour Boys. Pirates would push on to win the Cup that season, after defeating Jomo Cosmos 1-0 in the final.

On 26 July 2003, during the 2010 World Cup Bid Club Challenge of Orlando Pirates vs Tottenham Hotspurs at Kings Park stadium, Durban. Lesley Manyathela shoots a penalty. (Photo: ertius Pickard/Gallo Images)

Orlando Pirates 3-0 Kaizer Chiefs (2001): The Manyathela show

In this one, another Pirates striker shone the brightest. This time through young goal-poacher Lesley Manyathela.

Both sides were stacked with excessive quality. As such, it was always poised to be an enthralling clash between the two sides.

In their corner, Pirates could call on players such as Benedict Vilakazi and OJ Mabizela. Chiefs had the likes of Thabo Mooki and Stanton Fredericks. 

However, it was Manyathela who stole the show with an impressive brace at just 20 years old. Vilakazi would round off the scoring after his masterclass from midfield.

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The match was of course played just a few months after the Ellis Park tragedy, which happened during another derby between the two sides. The crowd crush saw 43 people lose their lives in April that year.

The two teams put on a great spectacle in memory of those who had died a few months earlier. With Pirates emerging as the emphatic winner, following the contest.

Manyathela then lost his life in a car accident just two years after his 2001 heroics. He died in August 2003, a month before his twenty-second birthday. However, during his short career, that derby performance was one of his most notable.   

Jerry Sikhosana tries to get to ball in the 2001/2002 PSL season during Orlando Pirates (0) vs Moroka Swallows (0) at Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, on 30th September 2001. (Photo: Duif Du Toit/Gallo Images)

Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 Orlando Pirates (2010): Knowledge is power

Chiefs’ former Zimbabwean forward Knowledge Musona is one of the most lethal goal scorers to ever grace the PSL. Back in 2010, the striker netted a brace as Amakhosi walloped their rivals comfortably.

The two goals were part of Musona’s journey to clinching the PSL’s Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot award, which was named after the former Pirates striker upon his passing. That season, a 20-year-old Musona finished as the league’s top scorer, with an impressive haul of 15 goals.

The direction of the game was clear from the onset as Daine Klate scored an early own goal to hand Chiefs the lead. Musona then joined the act to hand his side a comprehensive lead, which ultimately proved unassailable. 

Knowledge Musona of Kaizer Chiefs on the attack during the CAF Champions League match between Kaizer Chiefs vs Liga Muculmana at Moses Mabhida Stadium on 1 March 2014 in Durban. (Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

Orlando Pirates 2-2 Kaizer Chiefs (2007): Inseparable rivals

Due to it being played in Durban as opposed to Johannesburg, this was already an unorthodox derby clash. The two teams had taken their rivalry to the road as part of fuelling fan excitement ahead of the Fifa World Cup.   

It proved an inspired decision with KwaZulu Natal-born Chiefs striker Mabhuti Khanyeza opening the scoring within 19 seconds of kick-off. To this day, it remains the earliest goal to be scored in a Soweto Derby.

Excellent Walaza helped the Bucs fight back from the early goal with a brace that handed his team the lead. However, the action was far from over as Chiefs equalised via the head of Arthur Zwane. DM

The Soweto Derby kicks off at 3.30pm on Saturday, 11 November. 


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