Chiefs and Pirates have met at Moses Mabhida twice in their history and in those occasions, local lads dazzled.
In 2010, Arthur Bartman produced a man of the match performance as Amakhosi dumped the Buccaneers out of the Telkom Knockout.
The Pietermaritzburg-born Bartman saved three penalties and Chiefs reigned supreme – 3-0 on penalties – after the game finished 0-0 after 120 minutes. Ironically, it was in same competition and at the same stage of the competition as this year. Amakhosi went on to beat Ajax Cape Town in the final at Absa Stadium in Durban.
Chiefs and Pirates met again at Moses Mabhida in 2014, this time in the MTN8 final. Amakhosi emerged as victors once again, thanks to a well taken header by Tefu Mashamaite but Brilliant Khuzwayo was the man of the moment.
Khuzwayo, who was born and bred in Umlazi, was colossal for Chiefs with his match-winning saves in the absence of Itumeleng Khune.
Now the day we’ve all been waiting for has come. And local lads such as Siphelele Ntshangase, Dumsani Zuma, Philani Zulu and Siyabonga Mpontshane could well be replicating the heroics of Bartman and Khuzwayo.
Zuma has really enjoyed regular game time under the tenure of Giovanni Solinas at Amakhosi.
Born in Pietermaritzburg, Zuma has already shown potential but a stellar performance in today’s game will go a long way in shaping his career.
He is expected to combine with Ntshangase who hasn’t featured in the last three games, but if Chiefs are serious about piling pressure on Pirates then the Uphongola-born maestro should start.
They have lacked creativity without his services. In his territory Ntshangase might just prove to be a lucky charm for Amakhosi.
But Ingwavuma-born goal-minder, Mpontshane, will have a huge say for the Buccaneers between the goalposts should he start.
He has been marshalling the defence with aplomb. Mpontshane will be hoping to lead Pirates into the final, just like Bartman did eight years ago at the same venue.
Pirates are on fire these days. They are unbeaten in the last 10 games. The Buccaneers are also enjoying a three-year winning streak over their arch-rivals.
But there’s one thing which the derby has proven over the years: form and statistics doesn’t count. It is what you produce on the days that counts. So, the day has arrived and let the game begin.@minenhlecr7
Independent on Saturday