Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic says he is itching to get the Soweto Derby underway and has been looking forward to the game since he arrived at the club a week ago.
Vermezovic, affectionately known as VV, spent three years as head coach of fierce rivals Kaizer Chiefs between 2009 and 2012, but since jumping ship he now faces his former employers in just his second game in charge at Bucs.
“I spent three wonderful years at Chiefs but that’s in the past now,” Vermezovic said as Pirates wrapped-up their preparations for the derby at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
“My present and my future is in Orlando Pirates and I will do anything possible to win trophies.
“It’s not easy to be the head coach of the two biggest clubs in one country, especially here where South Africa is split in the support of Pirates and Chiefs.”
VV oversaw a 1-0 win against Moroka Swallows on Wednesday and now shifts his attention to an Amakhosi outfit which has failed to win a derby since the Serbian coach’s departure almost two years ago.
“I think that tradition must go on,” VV joked upon hearing the statistic.
Wednesday’s victory lifted the Sea Robbers to fourth place in the Premiership standings.
They trail log-leading Chiefs by 10 points but still have a game in hand, making Saturday’s clash vital for Vermezovic’s troops.
“It’s a very important game for us, we can stay close to them,” Vermezovic said.
“Winning as many games as possible towards the end of the season is our main goal.
“This is a very interesting league. Nobody is safe… even with a 10 point lead. With a win on Saturday, we can get close to them.”
As Chiefs boasts the league’s top goal-scorer Bernard Parker (10) and Knowledge Musona, VV admitted the Glamour Boys were spoilt for choice.
He said he had worked with several of the Chiefs players and knew them well.
“I know those guys, I spent almost three years with them and I know exactly what they are capable of.
“There will have to be special attention for Parker, Musona and Tshabalala for sure. They are the players who can make the difference.”
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter, meanwhile, who has never beaten Pirates in a Premiership Soweto Derby, said he felt calm ahead of the game which, he said, was just a game like any other throughout the season.
“Every derby, since I’ve come, has been a very close affair. It probably could have gone either way and we hope that we can make a difference with this one,” Baxter said.
“It's a derby that’s going to live its own life and what happens before, or what happens after, doesn’t usually affect the derby.
“It’s about who deals with the event best on the day, which big players perform on the day, and who just gets through the afternoon best.”
He did, however, want to change his personal record against the Buccaneers, who have held Chiefs to three consecutive league draws since Baxter took over from VV in 2012.
“Of course, the derby is a massive game and you want to win every game that you go into.
“We’ve not won one of the league derbies so it’s something that we want to do.” – Sapa