The wait for the biggest pre-season game in South African football is almost over with less than two days before the Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates lock horns in the Carling Black Label Cup at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.
Even though there will be no fans in the stadium, excitement has been building up around the Black Label Cup which makes a return after its absence in 2020 due to Covi-19 which disrupted many sporting events last year.
Over the past few weeks, champion fans have been making their voices heard by voting for their team’s starting line-ups, choosing the formations, selecting the captains and also the player who will take a penalty on the day of the match.
One of the other exciting features of this match is that fans will have the first half to vote for the first substitution, the first substitutes will be announced and made in the 55th minutes and the man-of-the-match award will be voted by the fans between the 70th minute.
For this ninth edition of the competition that has proved to be hugely popular with the fans, Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and Pirates captain Happy Jele are the only players to have featured in all the editions since 2011.
Two lucky supporters in the form of Morena Mofokeng and Rorisang Matea, of Chiefs and Pirates respectively, were selected to be champion coaches and they will get the once in a lifetime experience of being part of the pre-match build-up and lead the team out from the dugout.
Kaizer Chiefs VS Orlando Pirates
There were a few surprise inclusions in Kaizer Chiefs’ final Black Label starting line-up with veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and untested Lebohang Lesako and Sabelo Radebe included in the starting line-up.
For the Buccaneers, their fans went with a tried and tested team that includes the likes of goalkeeper Richard Ofori , Thulani Hlatshwayo, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Thembinkosi Lorch, Ben Motshwari, Deon Hotto, Fortune Makaringe, Thabang Monare, Gabadinho Mhango.
Some of the key senior players like Lebogang Manyama, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Sibusiso Mabiliso and Reeve Frosler, who were with the national U23 squad at the Tokyo Olympics, did not make starting line-up.
It remains to be seen if new players Austin Dube, Kgaogelo Sekgota, Keagan Dolly, Cole Alexander, Brandon Petersen, Sifiso Hlanti and Phathutshedzo Nange will come on form the bench.
This means that the responsibility of winning this match will fall on the laps of senior players like Khune, Eric Mathoho, Kearyn Baccus, Samir Nurkovic and Khama Billiat.
Pirates are the most successful team in the history of the Black Label Cup having won this pre-season match five times while Chiefs have emerged victorious on three occasions and Happy Jele is the most decorated player with five trophies under his name.
Orlando Pirates: Richard Ofori, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Innocent Maela, Wayde Jooste, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Thembinkosi Lorch, Ben Motshwari, Deon Hotto, Fortune Makaringe, Thabang Monare, Gabadinho Mhango.
Kazier Chiefs: Itumeleng Khune, Erick Mathoho, Daniel Cardoso, Happy Mashiane, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Lebohang Lesako, Njabulo Blom, Kearyn Baccus, Sabelo Radebe, Samir Nurkovic, Khama Billiat.
Pick: They come evenly priced at 16/10 at BetXChange