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Why Pirates vs Sundowns is a better game than Chiefs vs Pirates

Percy Tau of Mamelodi Sundowns is challenged by Ayanda Gcaba of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns on 07 May 2017 at Orlando Stadium.
Percy Tau of Mamelodi Sundowns is challenged by Ayanda Gcaba of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns on 07 May 2017 at Orlando Stadium.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

Each year Orlando Pirates vs Mamelodi Sundowns is looked forward to with more relish by the purists than the Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates.

The derby‚ latterly cheekily nicknamed the “drawby” by SA football fans‚ might attract the huge crowd and TV audience.

But Pirates-Sundowns almost always produces more fireworks‚ such as last season’s dramatic 6-0 humiliation of Bucs by Downs at Loftus Versfeld.

To explain why Pirates-Sundowns is viewed with more relish SowetanLIVE has come up with five reasons why it is a better game than the Soweto derby:

1. It’s not overhyped

There is just too much hype surrounding the derby.

It’s too built up‚ the crowd is huge‚ the TV audience massive‚ and the consequence is that the two teams do not want to make mistakes and tactics from the bench are safety-first.

With less hype surrounding Pirates-Sundowns the players feel more free to express themselves and the coaches to employ attacking tactics.

The result is more often than not an explosive match-up where two of the country’s heavyweights go for each other’s throats.

2. The Pretoria-Soweto rivalry

The rivalry between the richest team in the country from the capital‚ relative newcomers as member of SA’s “big three” having become a power in the 1990s‚ and the Soweto giants‚ who were formed in 1937 and a power by the 1960s‚ adds spice to this encounter.

It’s not Chiefs-Pirates‚ and never will match the Soweto derby for that history of the breakaway club from Bucs in Amakhosi who grew to be the biggest in the country.

But somehow the intercity rivalry works.

There is less pressure and hype‚ but just as much quality on the field.

That one owner‚ relative football newcomer and upstart Patrice Motsepe‚ is a doyen of Pretoria business‚ and the other‚ Irvin Khoza‚ has risen from the streets of Soweto and been an administrator since the 1980s‚ adds to the off-field intrigue and rivalry.

3. An emphasis on style

Sundowns and Pirates have tried their utmost‚ and largely succeeded‚ to retain their best traditions of an emphasis on winning with style‚ even in the modern era as the PSL has become more fitness and organisation-based.

So when the teams meet‚ it’s pretty.

4. A star-crossed rivalry

As of last year Pirates‚ can no longer rub it in continentally-ambitious Downs’ faces that Bucs are the only PSL team with a star over their badge.

Sundowns’ Caf Champions League victory in 2016 makes this the rivalry between the clubs with the greatest ambition and success on the continent‚ and the stars over their badges‚ so it’s a battle of broader importance than just the PSL.

5. The stats don’t lie

All of the above ingredients almost always make for an exciting match. And the statistics do not lie.

In Pirates-Sundowns there have been just six goalless draws out of 32 matches since the 2004/05 season‚ meaning there were 26 games where at least one goal was scored.

There have been just 10 draws in all‚ and 22 results one way or the other.

The fixture has been nice and competitively matched‚ too‚ with 11 wins apiece to Bucs and Downs.

Compare that to the drawby with 11 goalless draws in the same period‚ and a staggering 22 draws in all‚ though admittedly in eight more games – 40.

To put it in perspective‚ since 2011‚ in just six years‚ there have been seven draws in the drawby (in 21 games)‚ one more than in Pirates-Sundowns since 2004‚ in 13 years.

In the derby 63 goals have been scored in 40 games since 2004‚ at 1.575 goals per game.

In Pirates-Sundowns 71 were scored in the 32 games in that period at 2.22 goals per game.

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