The retired striker believes it is a difficult call on who will win the Soweto Derby but backs Khune to start
Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates legend Marks Maponyane has shared his thoughts on the upcoming Soweto Derby this weekend, saying coach Ernst Middendorp could be tempted to start with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
The retired hitman has also reflected on Chiefs’ fine run in their 50th anniversary when they have clinched three Premier Soccer League (PSL) wins over Highlands Park, Cape Town City, and Golden Arrows in January.
With the Buccaneers yet to lose since coach Josef Zinnbauer took over in December, Maponyane also discusses their form.
“After these blunders on both goals against Maritzburg United. For starters, why did he want to hold the ball with one hand?” Maponyane told Goal.
“Instead of punching it away. The second one you’d swear he was watching tennis. He saw a cross coming into his box and then coming again into the back of the net, I said ‘whoops and next week it’s a cup against (Royal Eagles).’
“It meant Khune could not lose (a place) on that one if he makes good saves and then he will be ready for the derby. Because Khune played for 90 minutes against Eagles and Highlands Park, ask me who’s going to be in the starting line-up, it could be Khune.
“I know it’s going to be Khune and I know he was preparing for the big derby after the (Akpeyi) blunder, I mean there’s no way the jittery Akpeyi could just rock up on a big day like that. If that happens I will be shocked. You know why? It’s because the first ball to him will determine if he has recovered or not – his confidence is knocked by those two goals and the team went on to lose.
“He sat on the bench for the following game and he realized, oops ‘I’m still paying for my blunders.’
“A lot of coaches do that, you miss two or three chances as a striker and the team goes to lose, the following week, the coach will say ‘you know what you’ve ran a lot last week and we thought you should rest’.
“I’m looking forward to the game and I can’t give it a call but in terms of the scale, but I can tilt my scale to the Pirates side. By the way, did you notice that Chiefs have not lost in that 50th-anniversary jersey?
“They didn’t wear it against Leopards and they drew, they didn’t wear it against Maritzburg and they lost, they didn’t wear it against Highlands and they lost.
“The thing is Pirates is a home team and in order to frustrate them, they can just wear black and white. Then they force Chiefs to wear the losing jersey.”
On the Premier Soccer League (PSL) log leaders’ chances against the third-placed Pirates and their recent dip in form, the former Bafana Bafana international believes a number of factors can determine the results at FNB Stadium.
“In fact looking at the past results, they drew against Leopards after a series of wins and then they lost in the league and in the cup. They did a Real Madrid, remember Madrid drew and started losing. So, that can do two things to you,” he added.
“It can knock your confidence and you think ’not now, things can’t go wrong now’ but what is very important is do you get a rude awakening and it can maybe send alarms to say ‘guys we can’t let it slip now’…
“It can either motivate them to say if there’s a turning point, then this is the time against Pirates or it can be worse. You know how funny this game is, I don’t know why we call it a beautiful game because it can be ugly and hurting.
“So, there are just those perspectives for me. Look at the reputation or history, I mean the same Kaizer Chiefs that has not been having a good run. It’s either Chiefs or Pirates, whoever is not having a good run and maybe even making it worse, having lost midweek, and then you think these guys have lost three including the midweek game.
“They cannot stand a chance against Pirates or against each other, let me rephrase that, and suddenly the one that’s been suffering a humiliation of defeats start rising to the occasion and win the big occasion.
“You start to think where has this performance been? So, I can only say to you, Chiefs looked rejuvenated this season, they looked hungry, now they’re struggling. I’m talking about the draw and a loss and a loss, remember the game against Golden Arrows, the (Lebogang) Manyama goal.
“They could have drawn that game and they could have gone four without a win, it was a last-minute gasp but the thing is people tend to say you were lucky, but last-minute gasps must be included as one of the bounce backs because it is still part of the game.
“Why would you praise it when (Alex) Ferguson does it? Remember they called it a Fergie time in England. They praised instead of saying they are struggling. Why don’t they score early?
“Now, praise any team because it shows they stay focused if they can hang in there and score on the 93rd or 94th minute depending on the time that is added.”
On the first derby in the new millennium, ’Go Man Go’ is tempted to give Zinnbauer’s troops the advantage to move to second spot.
“Back to Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates…Pirates, on the other hand, they are just oozing with confidence and they really are having a good run, I’ve just spoken about the last-minute goals,” continued the legend.
“They scored late against Leopards…an own goal but you know what it did to them, it added to the series of wins. Their confidence and their tails are high, if the tails are high then you can either be arrogant and be caught flat-footed because you say, no we are happening.
“Or you can really say ‘we are not going to lose anything from now on’…..when your tails are high, anything can happen, it can be a Liverpool story or a Real Madrid.
“Liverpool, the tails are high and they keep grinding, that’s the advantage. You haven’t lost in 19 games and then somebody tells you, ‘you know 25 games without a loss could do’. Even if you’re 1-0 down with four minutes remaining you can score two goals because you believe we are chasing a particular record.
“Winning has always been a good habit, it’s not a bad habit at all. So, my take on the derby if you ask, it’s going to depend on factors that I have mentioned.”