Johannesburg – He’s the last player to score a hat-trick in the Soweto Derby, and Jerry Sikhosana says he’s not surprised that his record still stands to this day.
While playing for Orlando Pirates in the mid-90s, Sikhosana used to torment Kaizer Chiefs when the sides met in South Africa’s biggest fixture.
In 1996, he hammered in three goals past Brian Baloyi, the then Chiefs ’keeper, in a 4-1 Pirates Cup semifinal romp that remains one of the most memorable derbies of the modern era.
As the Buccaneers prepare to face Amakhosi again in this Saturday’s Absa Premiership derby (Soccer City, 3.30pm), Sikhosana says there are many missing elements.
“Today’s strikers are not hungry enough,” he said when quizzed about why his record of a hat-trick in a derby has stood for so long.
“To some players, the derby is just an ordinary game. But it is not. You can’t treat it like that. You have to see it as a special game.”
Sikhosana bemoaned the absence of camaraderie among players today, saying he had noticed they would be too busy paying attention to gadgets instead of uniting in song.
“The players of today are simply too ignorant. They hardly listen to supporters. When they are on their way to the stadium, they have these big headphones on; they are playing with their phones, or they just have no time to hear the fans out, even when they are shouting their names. Players are too concerned about their fancy cars, and they will never know the importance of the derby,” he said.
Nevertheless, Sikhosana expects Saturday’s match to live up to expectations, with both Chiefs and Pirates in terrific form and occupying the top two slots in the Premiership standings. “It should be an interesting match,” he said.
But Sikhosana warned that while both teams are in good nick, form will be of no consequence on Saturday. “Form is irrelevant in this match. You can’t go there thinking ‘we’ve won the previous match, so we’ll win the derby’. It’s all about who wants it most.”
He cited an example of that memorable match 16 years ago, when he scored a hat-trick. “We (Pirates) went into that match having lost 3-0 to Real Rovers in midweek. Over the weekend Chiefs had beaten Rovers 5-0, and when we got to the FNB Stadium, the Chiefs fans were displaying high fives everywhere, saying we should brace ourselves for defeat. That didn’t happen because we rose to the occasion,” the now Tembisa-based Sikhosana said.
Chiefs’ goalkeeper on that afternoon was the legendary Baloyi, for whom Sikhosana later became a constant menace in this fixture.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Baloyi – who played for Chiefs for more than a decade – echoed Sikhosana’s statement that an epic clash is in prospect. “It’s been a while since a derby has been so highly anticipated,” Baloyi said. “Pirates have been the form team for the last two years, and Chiefs have started this season very well. You can call Saturday’s match an early championship decider.”
Baloyi added Pirates should be boosted by the return of striker Benni McCarthy, who was in the matchday squad for last night’s clash against Chippa United.
“It’s a huge shot in the arm for Pirates to have Benni back in time for the derby. Even if he doesn’t start, all the players will see his presence in the dressing room as a major boost. He did well in the last derby (in March).”
Chiefs, meanwhile, will equally go into the match in high confidence following their 3-0 drubbing of Ajax Cape Town, Baloyi stated. “They had to bounce back after that disappointing result against Platinum Stars (on November 24). Now that they got that first loss out of the way, they can focus on staying top of the table.”
Interestingly, Baloyi did not share Sikhosana’s view that today’s players are focused on finer things and have neglected the importance of the derby. “Maybe we as a past generation are at fault – we should shoulder the responsibility of showing the players the way, educating them. But we must also accept things have changed.”
Asked for a prediction, Baloyi picked Chiefs to emerge victorious, whereas Sikhosana was undecided. “Eish, it’s too close to call,” the Pirates legend said.
“To be honest, I’m a bit scared of the way Chiefs are playing this season.” – The Star