Compared – Soweto Derby vs the biggest rivalries in football

Soweto derby, Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates
Credit: Icon Sport

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.

Players in action during the Soweto derby
Credit: Icon Sport

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.

Player in action during the Soweto derby
Credit: Icon Sport

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
Fixtures 53 17 5 10 85
Kaizer Chiefs 20 8 1 2 28
Orlando Pirates 12 6 1 6 25
Draws 24 3 3 32


Past results in the Soweto Derby

South Africa Cup 06/05/23

Kaizer Chiefs


Orlando Pirates


South Africa Premier 25/02/23

Kaizer Chiefs


Orlando Pirates


World Club Friendlies 12/11/22

Kaizer Chiefs

0 (5)

Orlando Pirates

0 (6)

South Africa Premier 29/10/22

Orlando Pirates


Kaizer Chiefs


South Africa Premier 05/03/22

Orlando Pirates


Kaizer Chiefs


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

Derby Record Attendance Year
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

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.
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