Polokwane City are currently last on the Absa Premiership table after two defeats in as many games. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Will it be a case of third-time lucky for Polokwane City when they host Baroka FC on Saturday? Rise and Shine have played their two Absa Premiership matches at “home” and lost them both, to Black Leopards and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Granted, the opening match against Leopards was away, but the clash was at the new Peter Mokaba Stadium that the club also use for their big matches. The two losses are actually an anomaly for Polokwane, who generally do well at a venue they’ve turned into a fortress of sorts.

That they survived relegation last season was largely due to their good home run, which saw none of the big teams that finished in the top three - Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs - getting maximum points in the Limpopo capital.

Saturday’s derby, the maiden Woza Nazo game of the season, provides them with a chance to kickstart their campaign. Yet to score a goal, having lost 1-0 to Leopards and 2-0 to Sundowns, Polokwane are going to have to be much sharper in front of goal if they are to break their duck.

Their new coach Jozef Vukusic needs to start producing results before trigger-happy owner Johnny Mogaladi begins panicking. A history of this Limpopo derby, however, seems to suggest that success is unlikely.

Having started their rivalry down in the National First Division (NFD), the two clubs renewed their battles in the elite league. But unlike in the second tier, where matches were often decisive, it has always been a stalemate in the top-flight league.

Last season, their league clashes ended goalless and 1-1, while in Baroka’s maiden campaign in the top tier, there was a goalless stalemate as well as a 2-2 tie. For there to be a winner this time, Polokwane will want their talismanic skipper Jabu Maluleke to rediscover the magic that has seen him carry the club throughout their elite league campaign.

Maluleke is a renowned creator of goals and on Saturday those killer passes will have to be spot on for Rodney Ramagalela to latch onto and deliver the goods. Baroka, on the other hand, were in action last night against Kaizer Chiefs and the result of that match will have a bearing on their mentality when they trot on to the pitch on Saturday.

Bakgaga are on a high, though, having just signed a new four-year sponsorship deal with Global Oil, and will be inspired to show their new backers that they have partnered with the right club. Not that they will be short of motivation, however. After all, local derbies are the kind of matches that see players always giving it their all.

And with Polokwane’s quest for their maiden win of the new Premiership season not doubt set to see them firing on all cylinders, and Baroka eager to be the first side to register victory in the Polokwane derby, there should be no shortage of fireworks at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday. 

This article is part of Independent Media’s partnership with Absa for the Woza Nazo campaign.

The Star

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