Cape Town - Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will open the domestic season in South Africa when they meet for the 2015 Carling Black Label Cup at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The pair of clubs have turned this annual preseason match into the unofficial ‘curtain raiser’ for the new Premier Soccer League campaign, which kicks off next midweek when the MTN8 quarterfinals will be played, followed shortly by the first round of Absa Premiership matches.
Pirates will come into the game on the back of some good form, having won 1-0 away to Tunisia’s CS Sfaxien in the CAF Confederation Cup on Sunday night.
The Buccaneers’ continuing participation in the continental tournament means they have effectively not had an offseason. This could well favour them for this match and the start of the 2015/16 season, but their main players could suffer fatigue earlier than usual as the campaign progresses.
Chiefs, in contrast, could be somewhat ‘undercooked’ as they come into the match, with their only notable preseason action a penalty shootout defeat in the semifinals of the King’s Cup in Swaziland earlier in July.
They have been working hard in camp, with Steve Komphela putting his players through their paces and getting comfortable in his new role as the Amakhosi coach. As for former Chiefs player, Komphela will know well the importance of a match against their arch rivals, even if it is not strictly a competitive fixture.
The major news in the lead-up to the game is that Chiefs have appointed veteran midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala as their captain. “It is an honour that comes with a great responsibility for ‘Shabba’. He is capable, I think he will deliver as expected,” said Komphela.
As for Pirates, they have been dealt a blow with the new that defenders Thabo Matlaba and Rooi Mahamutsa are both unavailable due to injury, and coach Eric Tinkler will regret their absence.
In the four previous Carling Black Label Cup matches, Pirates have won three times on penalties (2011, 2012, 2014), while Chiefs claimed one outright victory, 1-0 in 2013.
The line-ups for each team are decided by public voting, which closed on Tuesday evening.
Kick-off is at 15:30.
Kaizer Chiefs XI: Brilliant Khuzwayo, Kgotso Moleko, Siboniso Gaxa, Siyanda Xulu, Tsepo Masilela, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, George Maluleka, George Lebese, David Zulu, Bernard Parker.
Orlando Pirates XI: Brighton Mhlongo, Happy Jele, Tshepo Gumede, Siyabonga Sangweni, Patrick Phungwayo, Sifiso Myeni, Issa Sarr, Oupa Manyisa, Thabo Rakhale, Kermit Erasmus, Lehlohonolo Majoro.