Kaizer Chiefs begins a fresh new era, with renewed confidence and vigour as the Club faces old foes Orlando Pirates in the ninth edition of the season opening Carling Black Label Cup at Orlando Stadium this Sunday.
Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter will be back in the Chiefs dugout this season – but not just yet – as he will have to vacate his seat this weekend at the start of the game to Consumer Coach Morena Mofokeng.
After a rigorous selection process which included a written football knowledge test, as well as conducting the dressing room team talk and handling pre-match pitch-side interviews and a post-match press conference, Mofokeng got the nod for the dream job of leading the Amakhosi in the dressing room and on the bench tomorrow.
“I never thought I will be here one day,” Mofokeng said this week after being announced as Chiefs coach on SABC1’s SoccerZone live show
“I never thought I would make it this far. I wanted to prove myself. I wanted to showcase my talent. I wanted to play, but I could not reach that level. Now I have the opportunity to coach and maybe make something out of it,” a motivated Mofokeng added.
Chiefs will be looking to win the trophy for the fourth time since its inception in 2011. The event did not take place in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the last time two Soweto giants played in 2019 Pirates won their fifth trophy with a 2-0 score line.
It’s the fans of course who have voted in their hundreds of thousands for their preferred Amakhosi lineups to face the Buccaneers, and as always, they’ve made some interesting choices.
Buoyed by signing his two-year contract extension with Chiefs this week, Itumeleng Khune retains his position as a club fan favourite, as he was voted in by a considerable margin by the club’s supporters to be in goal and to be captain against Pirates.
The back four that started the CAF Champions League final against Al Ahly, Happy Mashiane, Erick Mathoho, Daniel Cardoso and Ramahlwe Mphahlele, got the nod from the fans too to start in the Carling Cup.
An exciting young midfield of Njabulo Blom, Sabelo Radebe, Lebohang Lesako and Kearyn Baccus are sure to give Pirates plenty to think about in midfield.
And upfront, there’s the twin strikers Chiefs fans have been deprived by injury of seeing much more of in recent months, Samir Nurković and Khama Billiat, who will lead the attack.
Nurković emerged from the votes as the leading candidate with 193 766 votes and as Chiefs’ designated penalty taker, eclipsing Khune who garnered 188 467 votes after receiving the most votes in the previous eight editions of the tournament.
Chiefs have of course welcomed plenty of new faces to Naturena for the new season, but it’s the club’s old guard and exciting youngsters who will get the first chance to stake their claim in the starting line up tomorrow.
Out injured and unavailable for selection are Dumsani Zuma, Lebogang Manyama and Siyabong Ngezana. Given Thibedi is not available as a precaution due to a minor niggle, while Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Reeve Frosler and Sibusiso Mabiliso are not available due to them representing South Africa at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In the 50th minute the supporters watching through the tv live broadcast will have an opportunity to influence the game by effecting the substitution via sms voting.
The Consumer Coach will effect the changes before he takes a backseat to allow coach Stuart Baxter to take charge of the rest of the proceedings. The only changes possible before the 50th minute will be because of an injured player.
The match will be played without spectators and will be broadcast live on SuperSport 202 and SABC1.
Kick-off is at 17:00.
Kaizer Chiefs line-up:
(Gk) Itumeleng Khune; (Defenders) Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Erick Mathoho; Daniel Cardoso, Happy Mashiane; (Midfielders) Njabulo Blom, Kearyn Baccus, Lebohang Lesako, Sabelo Radebe; (Forwards) Samir Nurković, Khama Billiat
Subs: (Gk) Brandon Petersen; Bernard Parker, Sifiso Hlanti, Phathutshedzo Nange, Kgaogelo Sekgota, Cole Alexander and Austin Dube