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Soweto Derby: Five key talking points

Which are the key subplots to watch out for in Saturday's clash between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs?

The Soweto Derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs takes centre-stage in the Absa Premiership on Saturday with an expected sell-out 80,000 crowd at the FNB Stadium.

Will it be another draw, can Ryan Moon continue his red hot form and will Chiefs maintain their long unbeaten run?

KweséESPN picks out five key talking points to watch out for in South Africa's showpiece fixture.

THE TITLE RACE

There is much more than mere bragging rights on the line in this game, where the loser could, for all intents and purposes, be knocked out of the Absa Premiership title race this season.

Pirates are currently four points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns and Chiefs are five, with eight games remaining in the campaign.

Sundowns' excellent away form suggests they should win away at AmaZulu on Friday night, which could leave the loser in this fixture too far behind in the championship sprint to lift the trophy at the end of the campaign.

Should Sundowns lose to Usuthu, then the team that can claim the derby victory would move tantalisingly close to the Brazilians, perhaps giving them the momentum in the final few months of the campaign.

CHIEFS' UNBEATEN RUN

Chiefs have arguably been the hardest team to beat in the Absa Premiership this season, and are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions. What's more, they are not conceding many either, with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune beaten just three times in that run.

Admittedly, four of those 10 games have been drawn, three with 0-0 scorelines, but Pirates will have their work cut out to try and break down this solid-looking AmaKhosi defensive line.

No team has lost fewer matches this season than Chiefs (three), half the number of Sundowns (six), but conversely only Chippa United (12) have drawn more games than the AmaKhosi (11).

Their eight victories is the lowest number of all the top five.

MOON DANCE

Bryce Moon has proven a lethal goal-poacher in recent months with five goals in his last seven games making him easily Chiefs' leading scorer this campaign.

The 21-year-old forward can look ungainly at times, but has a knack of being in the right place at the right time, and is a neat finisher who uses placement rather than power.

His combination with Colombian Leonardo Castro has yet to really click, they are very similar players and in truth should probably not be in the same team.

However, the need for high-profile signing Castro to play, coupled with Moon's excellent recent scoring run, makes it difficult for coach Steve Komphela to leave either one on the sidelines.

Venezuelan Gustavo Paez and veteran Bernard Parker are also options, but neither has been prolific this campaign.

PIRATES' HOME COMFORTS

Although this game is being played at Kaizer Chiefs' nominated venue of the FNB Stadium, it is in fact a 'home' match for Pirates and they have been exceptionally strong in such games over the last 12 months.

In fact, Mamelodi Sundowns are the only side to beat them in a home fixture in that time, while they have lost just four times at home in the last two years, even through their dismal 2016/17 campaign, a run of 38 games.

Two of those losses were to Sundowns, one to champions Bidvest Wits and the final defeat came as goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane had an absolute howler against Bloemfontein Celtic, thinking the ball was travelling wide from a deep cross only to leave it to bounce into his own net.

THE DRAW-ETO DERBY

Both of these teams have been too scared to lose the Soweto Derby in recent years rather than pushing for a victory, and that has led to many drawn games.

In fact, five of the last six meetings have ended in a stalemate, and nine of the last 14, leaving fans of both sides dissatisfied with the outcome.

Both coaches have suggested that, given the situation in the title race, they will go out for a win this campaign and if they do, it could be quite a spectacle.

Pirates have the greater attacking threat, but Chiefs boast the better organisation and carry a threat from the wide areas and midfield as well.

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