Castro holds fort after Nurkovic's injury

Three key battles in the derby

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Orlando Pirates' new head coach Josef Zinnbauer.
Orlando Pirates' new head coach Josef Zinnbauer.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Since the MTN8 semifinal first leg between Soweto powerhouses Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at Orlando Stadium tomorrow (3pm) is undoubtedly this weekend’s drawcard of local football, Sihle Ndebele has picked up three key battles that are likely to influence the outcome of the tie.

Leonardo Castro v Thulani Hlatshwayo

Castro and Hlatshwayo are both blessed with aerial adroitness. With his twin striker Samir Nurkovic still out injured, Castro has been Chiefs’ main outlet upfront and this is unlikely to change tomorrow. By the look of things, the one who’ll win more aerial balls between Castro and Hlatshwayo will come out on top. Being Hlatshwayo’s first derby can give Castro an edge. Castro has an impressive record in the Soweto derby, having netted four goals in seven games.

Ben Motshwari v Nkosingiphile Ngcobo

Motshwari has dominated the recent midfield battles in this fixture, but the 29-year-old Bucs anchorman could be in for a shock if Ngcobo’s resurgence is anything to go by. The 20-year-old Ngcobo will be playing his maiden derby and he’ll surely be eager to continue with his great form. Motshwari’s biggest weapon is ball retention, while Ngcobo is a skillful player whose passing accuracy is unrivaled.

Daniel Cardoso v Terrence Dzvukamanja

While other  Bucs newcomers are still looking rather confused, Dzvukamanja looks to have already adapted to Pirates’ style of play, having already scored once from three outings across all competitions. Dzvukamanja’s agility can put defenders under a lot of pressure, but Cardoso would be banking on his experience and discipline to contain him.

As Gabadinho Mhango is doubtful for this clash, following his injury in midweek’s 1-1 home draw against Stellenbosch, Dzvukamanja could operate as a false No.9, a position he’s familiar with from his days at Bidvest Wits.

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