The whole country will remain transfixed this Saturday with FNB Stadium being the centre of attention as Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs go head to head in the Carling Black Label Cup. This fixture may be no more than a glorified pre-season friendly, but it has far reaching relevance as it shows fans a taste of what their respective teams have to offer this season. When a match of this magnitude happens after fans have been yearning for club football, we’re guaranteed a showbiz occasion. Let’s take a look at how this sold-out affair is likely to pan out.
Kaizer Chiefs 2/1
Orlando Pirates 13/10
News coming out of the Amakhosi camp is that one of the most-voted players, Itumeleng Khune, won’t feature due to the injury that sidelined him for the better part of last season. This means Bruce Bvuma has to be Kaizer Chiefs’ last line of defence and the Glamour Boys will be hoping the experience he gained from traveling with the Bafana Bafana squad which did national duty at this year’s AFCON pays off.
Chiefs fans are also likely to see newly-signed Lazarous Kambole donning the famous gold and black for the first time ever as he is currently the second-most voted striker behind Bernard Parker. I expect Kambole to be the focal point when it comes to offensive play with Parker roaming around. As things stand, Amakhosi have no orthodox number six and I expect George Maluleka to do the dirty work in the middle of the park and Siphelele Ntshangase to be the team’s source of creativity.
Ernst Middendorp’s men, who finished ninth on the log last season, have not won any of their pre-season friendlies, having recently lost 2-1 to Botswana outfit Township Rollers and drawn 1-1 with Royal Eagles who participate in the South African National First Division. However, such friendlies are not often a true reflection of how the team will perform during the season as most coaches use them to give players match fitness, but we can’t discount the fact that winning breeds confidence and losing does the opposite.
The mighty Buccaneers have an overly-offensive line up with Ben Motshwari being the only midfielder with defensive capabilities. They have to hope that doubtful Luvuyo Memela doesn’t recover in the nick of time for the game so that Xola Mlambo takes his place to give the team balance in the middle of the park.
Milutin Sredojevic’s men have recently visited Cape Town for some pre-season action where they drew 1-1 against Cape Town City and beat newly-promoted Stellenbosch 2-1 with Gabadinho Mhango netting a brace. As things stand, it doesn’t look like Mhango will start as Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga are leading the voters’ charts by a country mile. The Zambian duo have played in a couple of derbies and they know exactly what to expect in a match of this caliber.
In terms of defence, expect to see Justice Chabalala who has not seen much action since Micho took over the coaching reigns. This is his opportunity to stake his claim in the starting line-up. Surprisingly enough, Brilliant Khuzwayo, who has not played competitive football for the Sea Robbers due to injury is probably going to face his former team on Saturday.
Probable line ups
Kaizer Chiefs: 4-4-2
Bvuma; Mphahlele, Mathoho, Cardoso, Gordinho; Maluleka, Ntshangase, Malongoane, Billiat; Parker, Kambole.
Khuzwayo; Dube, Chabalala, Jele, Maela; Motshwari, Mlambo, Lorch, Pule; Mulenga, Shonga
Prediction: Orlando Pirates (13/10)
This will be a thrill-packed encounter with champion coaches (fans who win the competition to coach their respective teams) dishing out instructions to their favorite players until the hour mark. It will be easier for the Pirates coach because the team has a clear identity of playing while Chiefs are on a rebuilding phase. Should players elect to disregard instructions which I foresee happening, Pirates will win easily.
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