The biggest sporting event in the country appears set to once again live up to its lofty billing at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon (3.30pm kick-off) dividing the country, families – and maybe even relationships.
However, given the mounting pressures on both sides due to their poor run of form in the DStv Premiership of late, the three log points will be key as well.
Pirates were expected to knock Mamelodi Sundowns off their perch for the title this term, but they’ve been battling as they are 12 points behind in the race.
And that’s why a victory over AmaKhosi could go a long way towards writing the first chapter of that story – even though that will be easier said than done.
Chiefs are hunting their own redemption in the league, having also slacked in the title race and lost out on the MTN8 and Carling Knockout Cup before firing coach Molefi Ntseki.
It’s been a turbulent start for Chiefs, one that has seen Ntseki being replaced by Cavin Johnson on an interim basis, while the club’s fans were banned from the stadium for their hooligan behaviour during Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Cape Town Spurs.
With both teams having won their respective midweek fixtures in the league, the two sets of fans will be confident they can claim the bragging rights after the final whistle.
But Chiefs midfielder Keagan Dolly has added that there’s more at stake.
“I think this one will be very different because of the situation that both teams find themselves in,” Dolly said in the pre-match press briefing this week.
“I think it’s not only about bragging rights and having the edge over each other – I think it’s about three important points, and going higher on the log.
“I think for us, we spoke in the dressing-room that the remaining 19 games are a must-win for us. There’ll be no difference going into the derby.”
Dolly was one of the leading speakers in that dressing-room talk due to him not only being a senior, but also because he’s got strong ties with AmaKhosi.
Chiefs are Dolly’s childhood club, and he is therefore living the dream. But things haven’t entirely gone according to plan for him at Naturena since his arrival two-and-a-half years ago.
Chiefs are enduring an eight-year trophy drought, and Dolly has only recently returned from a lengthy injury, which saw him missing out on the early stages of the campaign.
“It was a tough five months. Seeing the boys play especially in the first games of the season when we were doing well, you want to be part of that,” Dolly said.
“But given my history with injuries, I think this time was different. I was able to deal with it mentally – I had my family, teammates and kids, who kept me busy.”
Fifth in a row on the line
Now fully fit, Dolly wants to help the team at least save what’s left of the season, and ensure that he wins his fifth successive league derby against arch-rivals Pirates.
The last is easier said than done, though, given that Pirates striker Kermit Erasmus is waiting eagerly to make his 11th appearance in the derby over his two stints at the club.
And despite knowing the importance of the three points, Erasmus knows that the match is like no other in the country’s sporting calendar. Hence, they must treat it as such.
“For me, at the end of the day, it’s just about three points. (But) yes, it’s a beautiful game – the country comes to a standstill, and it’s a great spectacle,” he said.
“We are the actors on the day, if I can say so. It’s for us to do our preparations as a group and individuals, and make sure that we pitch on the day.
“A lot of people are going to come out to support their respective team, with their hard-earned money or even the last bit of salary they have left. We must justify them.”