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5 players to watch in first Soweto derby of season

Khama Billiat of Kaizer Chiefs
(Image credit: Backpagepix)

Orlando Pirates host Kaizer Chiefs in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-final on Saturday afternoon, with both teams hoping to use the game as a springboard to further success this season. FourFourTwoZA writer DEAN WORKMAN highlights five players to watch out for in the early derby clash.

The Soweto giants will do battle at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday in the first of back-to-back semi-final fixtures of this year’s MTN8.

The Sea Robbers beat Cape Town City 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the competition in their first game of the season, but followed that up with back-to-back 1-1 draws in the DStv Premiership with AmaZulu and Stellenbosch FC, respectively.

Chiefs edged Maritzburg United in their MTN8 quarter, winning 2-1 on the day, before an opening day 3-0 humbling by Mamelodi Sundowns was followed up with a 1-0 win over Chippa United.

With so much riding on this early season clash in terms of confidence and self-belief, a number of player will be looking to make their mark.

1) Richard Ofori

The newly signed goalkeeper has been touted to make a massive impact at Pirates having arrived from Maritzburg United before the start of the campaign.

Last season, Chiefs keeper Daniel Akpeyi produced a stunning display in the derby against Pirates to earn the points for his team, highlighting the importance of a top keeper.

With Chiefs struggling to hit the back of the net, Ofori will undoubtedly be targeting a clean sheet in his derby debut.

2) Daniel Cardoso

New Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt has been chopping and changing his backline searching for his strongest lineup – however, Cardoso has been a permanent fixture in the heart of defence.

In what will likely be a frenetic game, Cardoso’s experience and calming presence will be vital in organising the Chiefs defenders as they look to keep out Pirates in Soweto.

3) Leonardo Castro

Castro missed the back end of last season through injury but is back to full fitness and fighting for a spot in Hunt’s team.

The Colombian has proved to be a vital focal point in the Chiefs attack with his ability to bring down the long ball and link up with his teammates.

Castro will be up against Thulani Hlatshwayo and perhaps Happy Jele on Saturday, and that battle will likely play a huge role in the outcome.

4) Deon Hotto

The Namibian was one of the players who joined Pirates as part of the mass exodus at Bidvest Wits following the club’s sale.

The utility man has played in every game so far for the Buccaneers and looks to be finding his feet with the Soweto giants.

The clash with Chiefs will be the perfect chance for Hotto to further enhance his reputation, looking to take advantage of the vulnerability down Chiefs' left flank.

5) Khama Billiat

The Zimbabwean has not quite hit the heights at Chiefs which he enjoyed at former employers Mamelodi Sundowns, but Hunt looks like he is starting to get the best out of the forward.

Saturday’s Soweto derby will provide the ideal chance for Billiat to not only regain some much-needed confidence but also remind everyone of just what he can do.