Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic has questioned the timing of the Carling Black Label Cup, where the team plays arch-rivals Orlando Pirates, during pre-season preparation.
The competition requires fans to vote for the starting line-ups of the two clubs, while also indicating, via sms, which players they feel should be replaced at certain times of the match - a first in soccer.
The inaugural match at the FNB Stadium on Saturday garnered mixed reaction as Pirates beat Chiefs 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a largely uninspiring 90 minutes of regular time that finished 0-0.
Vermezovic feels the fixture would be better played at the conclusion of a season, and not at the start, when clubs are in their preparation stages.
"I know that you have the sponsors and the fans to please, but I think it is best to move this cup to the end of the season," Vermezovic said in a telephonic interview.
"It is excitement for the supporters and interesting initiative. I have never been part of a concept like this one, but my feeling is that it's better later then at the start of the season."
Another concern for Vermezovic is the number of injuries to some of his key players.
The 2011/12 season starts this week with the MTN8 quarter-finals, where Chiefs play Bidvest Wits at FNB Stadium on Sunday. On the injury list they have captain Jimmy Tau, Kaizer Motaung Junior, Mthokozisi Yende, Mandla Masango, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Lucky Khune and George Lebese.
The latter three suffered injuries on the weekend. Letsholonyane and Lebese are expected to have their injured knees scanned this week.
"We will have to wait for the scans to come back on the players, but Lebese's injury looked more serious, I don't expect him to feature this week," Vermezovic said.
"But generally our preparations have gone well ahead of the season. We are in our sixth week of pre-season [preparations] and will be ready for our match against Wits."
His Pirates counterpart Julio Leal was pleased with his side carrying their momentum from last season, when they collected a treble of trophies under previous coach Ruud Krol.
Being the MTN8 champions, they start their title defence against Santos at Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening.
"We are generally happy with our preparations and our performance. We have had two high intensity games in our last two weeks," said Leal.
"The team has continued where they left off last season, and are looking forward to doing well this season and in our first match against Santos."