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Jonty Mark examines three confrontations that could decide the outcome of the biggest match on the local calendar.
Senzo Meyiwa has taken some stick from the Buccaneers fans this season, a little strange given that he has been mostly excellent in goal for Pirates, again illustrating his value in this week’s 1-0 win at |Moroka Swallows.
Vladimir Vermezovic’s first game in charge of the Buccaneers would |almost certainly have ended in a draw but for two brilliant, last-gasp saves from the Pirates number one No 1.
Meyiwa certainly has a huge edge in terms of experience over Reyaad Pieterse this afternoon, the 22 year old making only his second league start of his PSL career in place of the |injured Itumeleng Khune.
Pieterse has undoubted talent, but can he keep his nerve in the heat of the battle this afternoon?
Lucky Lekgwathi is a Soweto Derby veteran, and back as a regular starter for Pirates at the ripe old age of 37 following his much-publicised troubles with the club towards the end of last year.
Lekgwathi has made light of his advanced years and his experience could prove key as Pirates aim to stifle Chiefs’ potentially lethal strike force this afternoon.
Lekgwathi also has a habit of popping up with some key goals at the other end of the field, as does Tefu Mashamaite, the Amakhosi’s most reliable current centre-back.
Mashamaite, who has four goals for Amakhosi in all competitions this season, has been ever-present in the three derbies played thus far this season, and should prove a strong deterrent to Pirates’ attacking threat, particularly at set pieces.
Kermit Erasmus scored one of his three goals in the Absa Premiership this season in the first round Soweto Derby, netting the opener in October in a 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs.
Erasmus has not exactly set the world alight for the Buccaneers this season, the general malaise in their strike force is illustrated by the fact that he is their top scoring striker in the league, even with such a meagre haul. Erasmus showed signs of some form with an excellent goal against Moroka Swallows on Wednesday night, and |Pirates will hope it can continue.
Parker is the only man in double figures in the top flight scoring charts and his value to Chiefs was shown in his absence on Wednesday night, as they went down 2-0 to Platinum Stars. Parker helps Chiefs tick as much with his workrate across the frontline as his ability to hit the back of the net, and if they win today, he is likely to have play a major role to play. - Saturday Star