soweto rivalry

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

While English and European football giants Manchester United have added to the excitement of the yearly Vodacom Challenge, a war of words has erupted between their local opponents.

Soccer lovers should be bracing themselves for a tournament that will linger in their minds for a very long time because Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs would not want to be bullied by the visitors in front of local fans.

However, the unexpected has happened.

The Buccaneers and Amakhosi have declared war on each other instead of ganging up against the Red Devils.

This is purely because neither side will want to start the year with a negative result against the other.

Thus their derby encounter at the Eastern Province Rugby Stadium next Thursday is bound to be a thriller because it seems to be overshadowing Saturday afternoon's match between Chiefs and United in Cape Town.

Pirates' public relations officer Mickey Modisane has pointed out that their age-old rivals have upset them on a number of occasions and that they were not going to compromise.

"It's going to be war and we're going to silence some of the doubting Thomases about our ability. This time we're going to dominate the event up until the end," he said.

"The derby has tormented us because Chiefs have been dominant over us. That has been disturbing, so we're going to be uncompromising because our integrity is at stake.

"It will be important for our supporters in the Eastern Cape to see how prepared we are for the season ahead. And the derby will also give our coach an insight about players and how to utilise them better."

Some of the local players from both sides will be meeting United for the first time and have expressed their excitement at playing against the current English and European champions.

At Pirates Benson Mhlongo, Thembekile Kanono, Lebogang Mothibantwa and Moeneeb Josephs are the debutants while Chiefs will be displaying Jose Torealba, Gordon Gilbert, Elliot Rooi and Reneilwe Letsholonyane among others.

United arrive in the country for this lucrative tournament on Friday.

Their first game is against Chiefs at Newlands Stadium, while Pirates take on the English side at Kings Park Rugby Stadium next Tuesday night. The winner between Pirates and Chiefs will play Manchester in the final at Loftus Stadium on July 26.