Owen Da Gama's long football career as player and coach has yielded many highlights, but he still feels there's something missing in his list of achievements.

Having for years observed The Soweto Derby from afar, Da Gama will fill that hole when he leads out Orlando Pirates against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday (Absa Stadium, Durban, 3.30pm).

Participating in the biggest match in the land is a dream for most and Da Gama, now the Pirates head coach, is no different. "This is the ultimate match," he said on Tuesday.

"I'm very fortunate to have played overseas. I watched a lot of derbies - I remember being in Barcelona to watch them against Real Madrid. But Pirates versus Chiefs has got to be a very special game. Whether you're a player or coach, the experience of just being there will top the list of everything you've achieved. Saturday's match is more special because it will be broadcast throughout Europe. It will be like a World Cup final."

Da Gama's accolades in a career that began at Moroka Swallows more than two decades ago include winning the BobSave Super Bowl and playing in the European Cup (now Champions League) and clinching the Telkom Knockout as coach at Platinum Stars.

Also, as a Swallows player, he used to play in secondary derbies against both Chiefs and Pirates, but on Saturday, it will be the first time that he gets the feel of the derby.

"The win in the Telkom Knockout (last year) ranks high in my coaching achievements. As a player, the Bob Save final against Sundowns, when I scored two goals and created one (in a 5-1 win for the Birds in 1989) is also up there. But I'm expecting the derby experience to beat that," Da Gama said.

The Buccaneers' coach is not the only derby "debutant" in the Pirates ranks. Most of his starting XI will be experiencing the occasion for the first time in their careers - only Lucky Lekgwathi can be regarded as a derby "veteran" in Da Gama's regular team.

Contrast that with Chiefs, who have the experience of Thabo Mooki, Cyril Nzama, Arthur Zwane, Fabian McCarthy, Tinashe Nengomasha and Jimmy Tau to count on for such a sacred occasion.

Amakhosi coach Muhsin Ertugral is also not a newcomer to this fray, having coached the team in these matches in his first spell between 1999 and 2003.

Pirates on the other hand have players such as Senzo Meyiwa, Teko Modise and Lindokuhle Mkhwanazi who will be playing in the derby for the first time. So will this count against Pirates? "No, not at all," responded Da Gama on the lack of experience.

"I see this match as a chance for these boys to grow and increase their confidence."


Friday: Moroka Swallows v SuperSport United, Germiston, 8pm; Mamelodi Sundowns v Jomo Cosmos, Loftus Versfeld, 8pm; BidVest Wits v Bloemfontein Celtic, Milpark, 8pm

Saturday: Pirates v Chiefs, Absa Stadium, 3.30pm; Santos v Thanda Royal Zulu, Athlone, 8pm

Sunday: Golden Arrows v Black Leopards, King Zwelithini Stadium, 3pm; Free State Stars v Platinum Stars, Goble Park, 3.30pm; AmaZulu v Ajax Cape Town, Princess Magogo Stadium, 3.30pm