Cape Town - All roads lead to Soweto this Saturday for what effectively amounts to the season opener, as Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates clash in the sixth edition of the Carling Black Label Cup.
The eagerly anticipated derby showdown between South Africa’s two most popular clubs takes place at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon, 3pm kick-off.
The competition, won four times by Pirates and only once by Chiefs, is unique in that the starting line-ups are chosen by way of the supporters’ vote, while the match-day coaches will be two lucky fans in the form of Philani Ndlovu, who will lead Amakhosi into battle, and Sifiso Mahlangu, who will carry the weight of the Buccaneers’ fortunes.
Each team will be allowed to make up to seven substitutions (six outfield and one goalkeeper), with a live fans’ vote determining who will come on, the match-day coach deciding which player to withdraw.
The teams were announced earlier this week and contained no real surprises, while neither club had any of their new signings selected.
Kaizer Chiefs XI: Itumeleng Khune, Kgotso Moleko, Erick Mathoho, Lorenzo Gordinho, Tsepo Masilela, Willard Katsande, George Maluleka, Hendrick Ekstein, George Lebese, William Twala, Bernard Parker.
Orlando Pirates XI: Brighton Mhlongo, Happy Jele, Ayanda Gcaba, Edwin Gyimah, Thabo Matlaba, Issa Sarr, Oupa Manyisa, Mpho Makola, Thabo Rakhale, Thamsanqa Gabuza, Tendai Ndoro.
Pirates coach Muhsin Ertugral, who had two stints in charge of Chiefs, winning three and losing four of his 11 Soweto derbies, gave his backing to the starting XI selected by the Sea Robbers faithful.
"The supporters are actually very clever and I think maybe only one position I would have changed," he said.
However, he put the pressure on match-day coach Mahlagnu, who lists Rudi Krol as his favourite Bucs mentor, with the following words of caution:
"What we do from that selection, how we play, is a different story. Are we playing 3-5-2, 4-5-1 or diamond shape? It's not just about selecting the team, it is about how you play."
While the nature of the competition brings with it a certain festival atmosphere, Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande says the players will be taking the game – played in front of 90,000 plus fans - anything but lightly.
"When you are going to play a game like a derby it is worth more than just being a pre-season game, it is more than that because there is history between the two teams," he said.
"Obviously we need to approach the game with a positive mind and with a positive attitude whereby we need to execute what we were doing during the pre-season and also pick up mistakes where we need to polish up our game."
Chiefs ended last season in fifth spot in the PSL standings, Pirates seventh. The two rivals met four times last season in league and cup, Pirates winning two and Chiefs one.
LIVE scoring and interactive commentary of the Carling Black Label Cup between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.