Our football writer previews the Carling Black Label Cup battle between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates which takes place this Saturday.
The Carling Black Label Cup takes centre stage this weekend. Kaizer Chiefs lock horns with Orlando Pirates in a sold-out pre-season friendly at FNB Stadium. This will give coaches a picture of how far they’ve gone in terms of their readiness for the upcoming season. It will also give the whole continent an idea of how tactically astute fans are since they chosoe their own starting line ups. Voting closes tonight and the expected line ups can be foreseen.
Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates | Saturday 29 July | FNB Stadium | 15:30
To Win Match (90 mins)
Kaizer Chiefs 13/10 | Draw 19/10 | Orlando Pirates 22/10
Most Voted for players so far: Bvuma, Khumalo, Mathoho, Gordinho, Cardoso, Katsande, Ekstein, Buchanan, Chirambadare, Letlotlo, Paez.
After enduring yet another trophy-less season AmaKhosi will be looking to gain a psychological boost ahead of the new campaign and nothing can provide that better than beating their bitter rivals. Chiefs have enjoyed a solid preseason. They won the Maize Cup a few weeks ago by beating Free State Stars 1-0 in the final with George Lebese scoring the winner in the 83rd minute.
Surprisingly enough, Bruce Bvuma who rose to prominence after the it was revealed that he’s being paid a meagre R5000 per month made headlines is leading the goalkeepers’ votes. This must be support out of pity because everyone expected Itumeleng Khune to keep his place between the sticks. Sibusiso Khumalo is likely to start ahead of Masilela at left back and I strongly believe that he’s a better player than Tshepo Masilela as he offers more going forward.
In terms of their midfield I think fans voted for ballplayers who provide excitement as opposed to balance. Regular box-to-box George Maluleka falls down the pecking order in favour of the charismatic Kevin Buchanan and dribbling wizard Pule Ekstein also makes the cut.
As expected, the fans voted for Gustavo Paez who proved himself over the course of last season with the fans showing faith in the Venezuelan.
Most voted for players so far: Brighton Mhlongo, Mthiyane, Chabalala, Jele, Gcaba, Motupa, Morrison, Mobara, Wome, Japhta, Nkosi.
The mighty Buccaneers have a very interesting story because they have parted ways with three of the most voted for players, namely Brighton Mhlongo, Gift Motupa and Dove Wome. I expect Siyabonga Mpontshane, Mpho Makola or Thamsanqa Sangweni and Tendai Ndoro to replace them.
Pirates fans have also shown appreciation for Justice Chabalala’s return from Chippa United as he is in the starting line up as things stand. The move really makes sense because the team has had defensive issues since his departure. Ayanda Gcaba will start at left back if Thabo Matlaba or Patrick Pungwayo don’t overtake him today. That seems unlikely, however, with the fans not too keen on the pair after several high profile gaffs over the last few seasons.
If Thamsanqa Sangweni manages to start alongside Bernard Morrison in the middle of the park I foresee them complementing each other. Morrison is a good-dribbler who can create space for his teammates, he just needs to be less selfish at times. Thamsanqa Sangweni knows how to break up opposition play and is also useful with the ball at his feet. That’s why he has been brought in and with his arrival, Issar Sarr will likely play a second fiddle for the upcoming season.
Sello Japhta is a shock favourite since he hasn’t played enough to impress the fans. I’m glad to see Aynda Nkosi having a great possibility of starting because he is a talented striker who hasn’t been given enough game time. This is set to be a action-packed match that is sure to excite fans with attacking football that is full of all the showmanship that South African football fans have come to expect of this fixture.
Verdict: Orlando Pirates (90 Minutes) (22/10)
If things stay like this both teams are set up to play attacking football and we can see that both sets of fans have gone for dribbling wizards as opposed to ensuring balance by including box-to-box players like Oupa Manyisa and George Maluleka.
Willard Katsande is the only player with defensive capabilities in the Chiefs side and Pirates only have Mobara and hopefully they choose Sangweni ahead of Makola to replace Motupa who has left for Baroka FC. Both teams will find the back of the net with Pirates outscoring their opponents.