Soweto derby: Brilliant and Brighton most popular

2015-07-26 16:15
Brilliant Khuzwayo is the Kaizer Chiefs player supporters give their vote to. PHOTO: Muzi Ntombela / backpagepix

Brilliant Khuzwayo and Brighton Mhlongo are the new darlings of the Soweto derby.

Ahead of the first Soweto derby in the Carling Black Label Cup on Saturday, both goalkeepers have taken the reins from Itumeleng Khune and the late Senzo Meyiwa as the most popular choices by their clubs’ supporters.

While Khuzwayo amassed more than half a million votes, Mhlongo was sitting just below the 300 000-mark at the time of going to press yesterday.

Interestingly, the two goalkeepers used to be numbers one and two respectively when they were still campaigning in the national under-23 team.

In fact, two Kaizer Chiefs goalkeepers were the only Amakhosi players to have broken the three-figure mark, with Reyaad Pieterse on 103 000 by yesterday.

So the supporters have spoken and whether coaches agree with their choices or not is neither here nor there – the supporters will be calling the shots, once again, in the fifth edition of the cup at the FNB Stadium.

After selecting their starting line-ups, supporters will also get a chance to make changes – but only after the opening 45 minutes, unless there are injury-forced substitutions.

Though Steve Komphela and Eric Tinkler will be in their respective clubs’ dugouts, theirs will mainly be advisory roles as the celebrity coaches shout instructions from the benches.

One certainty is that there are no friendly matches between Pirates and Chiefs.

Whenever these two Soweto giants meet, there is always a lot at stake. Saturday will be no different.

Three of the previous four editions were won on penalties – all by Pirates – with Chiefs claiming a single victory in 2013.

A potential Soweto derby was thwarted by Swazi opponents Mbabane Swallows and Royal Leopards last weekend when both Chiefs and Pirates were knocked out of the King’s Super Cup semi-finals.

Former Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter would not have agreed with his supporters’ choice. While Baxter preferred Willard Katsande in midfield, the supporters have gone for George Maluleka instead of the Zimbabwean in the middle of the park.

Chiefs’ midfield looks a bit thin without Katsande, who always adds bite, and it remains to be seen how Maluleka and Reneilwe Letsholonyane complement each other.

Even more bizarre is the fact that the supporters prefer David Zulu, who was hardly used by Baxter last season, as Bernard Parker’s striking partner.

The supporters may be disappointed, though, not to see Tsepo Masilela in the team as the left back is still nursing an injury.

Masilela missed the King’s Cup last weekend and this gave returnee Keegan Ritchie a chance to impress.

Interestingly, Amakhosi followers have voted in two right back defenders – Siboniso Gaxa and Kgotso Moleko – though the former can also play as a centre back.

Pirates supporters know their team: they have gone with what Tinkler would have preferred. The supporters have always called for the partnership of Lehlohonolo Majoro and Kermit Erasmus upfront and their voices have been heard. The two will be the leading frontmen on Saturday, bar injuries from their trip from Tunisia.

The Bucs rearguard is straightforward with Happy Jele reverting to his usual right back position to make way for Siyabonga Sangweni to partner Rooi Mahamutsa in central defence. But Mahamutsa could be out after injuring himself in training this week. He will miss tonight’s CAF Confederation Cup clash with CS Sfaxien in Tunisia.

Probable line-ups:

Pirates: Mhlongo, Thabo Matlaba, Mahamutsa (Tshepo Gumede), Sangweni, Jele, Oupa Manyisa, Issa Sarr, Thabo Rakhale, Sifiso Myeni, Majoro, Erasmus

Chiefs: Khuzwayo, Masilela (Ritchie), Siyanda Xulu, Moleko, Gaxa, Maluleka, Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala, George Lebese, Parker, Zulu


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