Key areas where the Soweto derby battle could be won or lost

Tomorrow's 166th Soweto derby should be a fascinating spectacle, not least as the focus will firmly be on these key battles, as Tiyani Mabasa, Gomolemo Motshwane and Sihle Ndebele observe:

Daniel Akpeyi (Chiefs)

New to the set-up at Naturena, the Nigerian international could be thrown into the deep end for his debut after joining from Chippa United. Akpeyi, 32, played 20 matches for the Chilli Boys this season and kept six clean sheets. Whether he's up to the task if given the nod ahead of the erratic Virgil Vries, is anybody's guess.

The Kaizer Chiefs defence will have to be alert to help him out in keeping the Orlando Pirates attackers at bay or risk exposing him to the free-scoring Pirates front men.

Wayne Sandilands (Bucs)

In late 2017, the ex- Sundowns shot-stopper featured in the derby just a few months after signing for the club and kept a clean sheet in the goalless draw.

But he's not been able to keep it up, having fallen down the pecking order with Jackson Mabokgwane and Siyabonga Mpontshane exchanging the number one jersey. Sandilands, 34, was restored to the starting 11 in Bucs's goalless draw against Esperance in Group B of the CAF Champions League last weekend for only his second match of the season.

 

THE MIDFIELD BATTLE

Willard Katsande (Chiefs)

The hard-tackling Zimbabwean is arguably Chiefs's most dependable player. Katsande can play in central defence and in defensive midfield. The veteran has been the heartbeat of the team for the last six years. Although limited in skill and finesse, he plays with a lot of heart and Chiefs will need for him to stop the exciting Bucs attack that includes Vincent Pule and Thembinkosi Lorch.

Ben Motshwari (Pirates)

The 27 year-old midfielder is a specialist cleaner in the centre of the pitch who acts as a protector for the backline. Motshwari has forced his way into the starting line-up since his arrival last year and is a dynamic, hard worker who helps the team keep their defensive structure. He has the ability to read opposition play and contain the star player from the other team.

WILL THESE ATTACKERS FIRE?

Leonardo Castro (Chiefs)

Not blessed with pace, Castro's potent weapon is his copious work rate. The 29-year-old Colombian is expected to be a thorn in the Pirates backline's flesh tomorrow. Castro has scored eight goals and assisted four times in 26 games in all competitions this term. Castro scored Chiefs's goal in the last derby, the TKO semifinal loss in November last year. His aerial prowess makes him a threat at set-pieces.

Justin Shonga (Pirates)

Having already banged in eight goals and notched up five assists in 28 games across all competitions, Shonga is the focal point when Bucs attack. Proving his big-game temperament, the attacker, 22, scored the winner in the previous Soweto derby when Pirates outfoxed Chiefs 2-1 in the Telkom Knockout semifinal in November last year. His agility, combined with his ability to fire off powerful shots with either foot makes Shonga special.

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