The Soweto Derby fondl,y called ‘El Kasico', is one of the most popular rivalries in world and African football which also ranks as one of the biggest derbies across the globe.
This derby is contested between Premier Soccer League giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, who are both based in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Matches involving these two rivals attract a large fanbase across the country that is not seen in any other PSL fixture and is seldom matched worldwide.
History of the Soweto Derby
Moroka Swallows and Pimville United Brothers ruled in Soweto until the late 1960s when Orlando Pirates shot into prominence after it had attracted the best players at the time.
One of the players there during this period was Kaizer Motaung, one of the finest in the country.
In 1969, Kaizer Motaung tried to settle a dispute with Orlando Pirates after the club punished players for playing in a match without permission.
When his efforts yielded no results, he resigned and started a club, which initially became known as Kaizer XI.
The following year, Kaizer XI became Kaizer Chiefs when the club’s structures were formalized. Motaung appointed Thomas ‘Zero' Johnson as the coach and Ewert Nene as the manager.
Pirates vs Chiefs would then be contested in Soweto in January of 1970, when the teams featured in a curtain-raiser event. The occasion was the Rogue Beer Cup third-fourth play-off which Pirates won.
The Chiefs team at the time included Henry Padi, Jacob Masike, Edward Khoza, Eliakim Khumalo, Ariel Kgongoane, ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe, Motaung, Ingle Singh, Alfred Chamane and Stanley ‘Screamer’ Tshabalala.
Chamane was credited with scoring Chiefs’ first-ever goal (in the Rogue Beer Cup quarterfinal).
On the other side of town, Pirates bounced back after the breakaway with players who did the club proud in years to come. Some of the names include Bernard Hartze and Jomo Sono who started in the early 70s before leaving to play in America.
What nobody saw coming
No one would have foreseen that these two teams in the curtain-raiser would grow in stature to the extent that over the next decades, they would attract fans from all walks of life.
Past players recalled that from the mid-70s onwards, hundreds streamed across South Africa's borders from neighbouring countries to watch the Soweto Derby.
Over time, the Soweto Derby became one of the most fiercely contested matches in Africa, perhaps not as fierce as the Egyptian Derby (Al Ahly vs Zamalek), which on occasion, had to be played behind closed doors due to fan violence.
At present, Chiefs and Pirates have grown in leaps and bounds from the 1970s, won several trophies and given fans thrilling encounters that have echoed over the years in their memories.
These teams will again lock horns on Saturday, 11 November 2023 in the DStv Premiership which will undoubtedly entertain all their fans.
Soweto Derby key facts
First meeting: 24 January 1970
Most wins: 28 – (Kaizer Chiefs)
Most player appearance: Happy Jele – 236 apps (Pirates)
Top scorer: Patrick Ntsoelengoe – 19 goals (Pirates)
Biggest win: Pirates 5-1 Chiefs in 1998
Last winner: Orlando Pirates
Soweto Derby overall record
|Team||League||Nedbank Cup||Telkom Cup||MTN8||Total|
Past results in the Soweto Derby
South Africa Cup 06/05/23
South Africa Premier 25/02/23
World Club Friendlies 12/11/22
South Africa Premier 29/10/22
South Africa Premier 05/03/22
Soweto Derby in comparison to other big derbies
In this section, we are going to look at record attendance of the Soweto Derby in comparison to some of the biggest derbies in the football world.
Soweto Derby Record Attendance Compared with the Big Derbies
|Soweto (Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates)||92,515||2011|
|Manchester (Man United vs Man City||78,000||1947|
|Madrid (R. Madrid vs Atletico)||69,082||2023|
|Milan (Inter vs AC Milan)||78,328||2017|
|Merseyside (Liverpool vs Everton)||78,599||1948|
|North London (Arsenal vs Tottenham)||83,222||2018|
|North West (Man United vs Liverpool)||75,180||2017|
|El Clasico (R. Madrid vs Barcelona)||120,000||1989|
|Turin (Juventus vs Torino)||70,200||1962|
|Paulista (Palmeiras vs Flamengo)||120,522||1974|
The data from these 10 teams above shows that the Soweto derby between Chiefs and Pirates ranks amongst the most all-time attended derbies in the world.
With a record attendance of 92,515 set on 26 February 2011, it ranks 3rd on this list, only behind the Paulista derby involving Palmeiras and Flamengo with an all-time high of 120,522 in 1974, and the revered El Clasico of 1989 with a record attendance of 120,000.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago