Telkom Knockout: Eight key players at the Soweto derby

Rugby may be all the rage on Saturday, but headlining the soccer action is another Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

Stakes are as high as ever as the two giants of SA football do battle in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. 

While it’s a team game, there will no doubt be a few individuals who will want to make their mark in what is one of the biggest fixtures in the local soccer calender.

Kaizer Chiefs 

Samir Nurkovic – Forward

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Samir Nurkovic of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates goal during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Supersport United at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 24 August 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The Serb has turned out to be one of Chiefs key players in his first few months at the club. 

Nurkovic’s confidence will be on the roof after getting on the scoresheet twice against Mamelodi Sundowns in his last outing.

Khama Billiat – Midfielder

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Khama Billiat of Kaizer Chiefs warming up ahead of the ABSA Premiership match against Cape Town City at Caape Town Stadium, Saturday 15 September 2018: Photo: RealTimeImages RTI

Khama Billiat hasn’t been at Chiefs for too long, but he has starred for the club everytime they have met their biggest rivals, even if the team’s results did not quite reflect his input.

He has hit his stride again this season, and will be hoping his impact proves decisive this time around.

Daniel Akpeyi – Goalkeeper

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Daniel Akpeyi of Kaizer Chiefs during Absa Premiership 2019/20 Kaizer Chiefs Media Day at Chiefs Village, Pretoria, on 22 August 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs have missed Itumeleng Khune for the best part of the year, but their goalkeeping issues are not as pronounced as they were earlier.

This after Nigerian international, Daniel Akpeyi assumed first-choice duties, and churning out man-of-the-match performances in what has been a near-perfect start for the club.

Daniel Castro – Striker

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Daniel Cardoso of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates goal with teammate Leonardo Castro of Kaizer Chiefs during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on the 09 February 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The Colombian has found favour from coach Ernst Middendorp through solid performances.

Castro started against Sundowns and is in line for another spot in the playing XI against the club’s biggest rivals.

Orlando Pirates

Thembinkosi Lorch – Midfielder 

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Thembinkosi Lorch of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 football match between Amazulu and Orlando Pirates at King Zwelithini Stadium on 20 August 2019 ©/BackpagePix

Form may have deserted Lorch a bit recently, but he has been one of Chiefs’ main tormentors in their lean spell against Pirates.

The winger is slowly rediscovering his feet, and has been on an upward trajectory in the last few weeks.

He could provide a few more worries for Amakhosi in what is a high-stakes encounter between the two sides.

Wayne Sandilands – Goalkeeper

Wayne Sandilands - Telkom Knockout: Eight key players at the Soweto derby
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 09: Wayne Sandilands of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Kazier Chiefs at FNB Stadium on February 09, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Just like Kaizer Chiefs have a shot-stopper as one of their key men, so do Orlando Pirates who will rely on their veteran gloveman to keep their rivals out.

Sandilands may be in his late 30s, but he has lost none of his agility, which made him one of the best goalkeepers plying their trade in the local top flight.

He was one of the standout players in the Buccaneers’ win over Highlands Park, and will look to carry that form to the quarterfinal against Chiefs.

Tshegofatso Mabasa – Striker 

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Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates celebrates his second goal during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 football match between Orlando Pirates and Chippa United at Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg on 14 September 2019 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Pirates missed out on silverware last season, and that could somewhat be attributed to leaving a few goals out on the park.

They seem to have found a clinical finisher in 23-year-old Tshegofatso Mabasa, who has five goals in as many starts in his first season at the club.

Linda Mntambo – Midfielder 

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Linda Mntambo of Orlando Pirates challenged Jude Valetin of Lightstars Fc during the Champions League 2018/19 match between Orlando Pirates and Lightstars FC at Orlando Stadium on 28 November 2018 @Aubrey KgakatsiBackpagePix

“Figo” has wormed his way into the starting line-up and is within a fair shot of taking to the field on Saturday.

Mntambo was man-of-the-match in Pirates’ last outing and would want nothing more than to star against Kaizer Chiefs, especially since he grew up in Orlando East.

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