Tsepo Masilela made the left-back position his own immediately after joining Kaizer Chiefs in 2012. The recent outing against Baroka FC was his 100th start in a league game wearing the Gold and Black jersey.
This season, however, the 31-year-old got serious competition for the left-back spot from Sibusiso Khumalo, who started in 11 league matches compared to eight for Masilela.
It will be interesting to see who will get the notch from coach Steve Komphela in this evening’s cracker against Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium (kick-off at 20:15).
But Masilela is not too worried about who of the two will start: “Competition for places is always tough at a big club like Chiefs, because we are all here on merit. The coach decides. I am a professional, the team always comes first.”
Matches between the Brazilians and Amakhosi have usually been fascinating battles to watch.
Chiefs’ opponents today originate from Marabastad, which is in the north-west area of Pretoria CBD. The club was called Marabastad Sundowns and had some big stars in Bernard Hartze, Smiley Moosa and Ingle Singh.
However, because the clubs had various coloured and Indian players and due to the apartheid policies in those days, they couldn’t compete in the black league in which, for example, Chiefs and Orlando Pirates played.
Later on, Sundowns moved to Mamelodi and became Mamelodi Sundowns, gaining promotion in 1982 to the multiracial NPSL, which was founded four years earlier. Accordingly, the NSL came to life in 1985, with the first league clash between the two sides ending in a goalless draw (Chiefs’ home game).
Since, the Brazilians and Amakhosi have clashed in 63 league games, with Chiefs winning 25, drawing 18 and losing 20.
The Glamour Boys last won the Absa Premiership in 2015 with a then record of 69 points (from 30 games). Mamelodi Sundowns, however, come into this afternoon’s clash as the reigning champions, having collected 71 points last season and setting a new record in the process.
The Brazilians also won the African Champions League towards the end of last year.
At present, the Glamour Boys are placed fourth on the Absa Premiership log with 36 points from 21 matches, while Sundowns are in fifth spot having two points less but having four games in hand.
Sundowns won their home game back in November, which was played at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld, with the final scoring being 2-1.
Khumalo occupied the left-back spot in that encounter, although he was replaced in the 42nd minute by Edmore Chirambadare.
“It will be a tough game,” forecasts Masilela, “they are not for nothing the reigning league and African champions. They are very strong in the middle of the park. It’s one of those matches, if you lose concentration, you get punished.”
Masilela prefers not to talk too much about Chiefs’ chances to win the league, as there are still nine matches to go. But he does stress that “we want to make the fans happy and that means that we would love to get those three points. It’s a crucial game. There are still about five teams in contention for the league trophy. We win and we are still in the title race. We just need to take our chances.”
Tickets are selling fast for this much anticipated league fixture between Amakhosi and the Brazilians at the FNB Stadium on Saturday evening, 1 April 2017 (kick-off at 20:15).
Tickets are available and can be purchased from Computicket, as well as Shoprite and Checkers stores.