Instead of Brilliant Khuzwayo whom the fans had voted to start the match, Chiefs will have Reyaad Pieterse as their last line of defence in this afternoon’s Soweto Derby at the FNB Stadium in Joburg.
Khuzwayo was injured at training on Thursday leading to Pieterse being elevated into the first team while Shandukani Mulovedzi comes in as the substitute goalkeeper. Pieterse will be hoping to keep a clean sheet like he did back in November 2013 when he helped Amakhosi to a 1-0 victory in the league.
But to do that, the 23-year-old will hope his teammates deny the Buccaneers’ man-of-the-moment a sight at goal.
Thabo Rakhale is in splendid form and will go into the derby highly-motivated following his great goal at CS Sfaxien of Tunisia last weekend. That goal, a fantastically chipped shot when all were expecting him to cross, has served to further endear the skilful Rakhale to the Buccaneers faithful who excitedly mobbed him upon the team’s arrival from their Caf Confederation Cup assignment.
It is adoration the player fondly referred to as “Jomo” did notexpect, at least not this soon in his Pirates career.
“I’m just happy the fans voted for me,” Rakhale said of his inclusion in the starting line-up ahead of the likes of Mpho Makola.
“It goes to show that I’m doing something right each time I’m given a chance to play. I hope to reward their trust with some good football in today’s game.”
Reward will mean him leaving the likes of Pa Gaxa and Kgotso Moleko sprawling on the turf via his silky skills that have had many an older fan reminded of the good old days in the 1980s when the local game was all about entertaining football.
And Rakhale has been fortunate that coach Eric Tinkler allows him the freedom to express himself, within boundaries of course.
“Coach Tinkler has been phenomenal in helping me play to my potential,” he said.
“He told me to focus on my strengths and stick to my normal game. And that’s what I have been doing so far and it has worked wonders. I’m not going to put myself under pressure for the derby, though.
“Obviously the bigger picture will be to win the match. It would be nice if we can do that. I just want to go out there and enjoy my football. I believe that will help me perform at my best for the team.”
The lad from Sebokeng credits his rise in the Bucs jersey to the invaluable experience he gained during his loan spell from the club.
The gifted winger was sent on loan to Polokwane City during the 2013/14 season to gain some PSL football experience, after having joined Pirates a year before from NFD’s Sivutsa Stars FC on a three-year deal.
“Going out on loan to City played a key role in helping me get much-needed experience playing in the PSL,” he said. “I learnt a lot there and that’s when I think the club (Pirates) saw I had something to offer and they decided to bring me back.”
And so far it has all been fun for “Jomo”.
The Bucs faithful will no doubt be expecting him to help the club triumph over the arch enemy once again. But Pieterse will be out to thwart him and all of Pirates.
Original source: It’s Soweto derby time