Friday, 27 July 2012

13 good reasons to back Kaizer Chiefs against Orlando Pirates in the first big Soweto derby tomorrow

Discarded: Lucas Thwala takes on Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009

I HAVE 13 good reasons for hoping Kaizer Chiefs win the first Soweto Derby of the new season against arch-rival Orlando Pirates at Soccer City tomorrow night.
That’s how many players – many of them loyal members of the squads responsible for winning two successive trebles – the Buccaneers have forced to walk the plank before the much-maligned Carling Black Label Cup live on SABC1 at 7.15pm tomorrow night.
Though pre-season has been with us for nearly a month now, coach Augusto Palacios and his Iron Duke Irvin Khoza decided to release the names of the essentially unwanted on Thursday. Read through them. Mashele, Boubacar, Mabalane, Ngidi… a list of lads who were promised fame and fortune, lured from smaller clubs by the famous skull-and-crossbones badge, praying they would be forever revered by the Ghost.
Those hopes now lie in tatters, and just like free-spending Mamelodi Sundowns, we are handed another band of talented players left to see out their careers dreaming of what might have been.
And it appears Tokelo Rantie, such a vibrant young foil to veteran Benni McCarthy, has been discarded too, but more of that later. Let's concentrate on Thursday's ill-timed clear-out.
First Khoza transfer-listed six players, long after the real wheeler-dealing for the new season has been done:
•             Dikgang Mabalane
•             Lizo Mjempu
•             Talatou Boubacar
•             Njabulo Ntusi
•             Chiukepo Msowoya
•             Njabulo Manqana
Then, the Buccaneers told us, another six can be released on loan though most PSL teams now have their squads in place:
•             Hlabane Kutumela
•             Patrick Ngidi
•             Patrick Mashele
•             Benjamin Nthete
•             Aubrey Ngoma
•             Thabo Rakhale
And the final blow? Lucas Thwala has been told he is simply not needed with the club revealing they spoke to loyal servant Thwala on Thursday morning to explain he was surplus to requirements. And to help him on his way, this brief comment: “Lucas Thwala has been a loyal servant of Orlando Pirates for many years and the club would like to wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Chiefs, Sundowns – and most other members of the currently sponsor-free PSL – made such decisions over a fortnight ago, releasing players who were surplus to requirements when rival clubs were jostling for new blood. For an unlucky 13 Buccaneers, suddenly the future is bleak.
Tomorrow, after the usual votes from the fans, Orlando Pirates will be represented at Soccer City by Josephs,  Lekgwathi, Matlaba, Mahamutsa, Sangweni, Myeni, Mayambela, Jali, Manyisa, Mbuyane and McCarthy.
And Kaizer Chiefs will go with: Khune, Gaxa, Jambo, Mashamaite, Gould, Letsholonyane, Nale, Dladla, Lebese, Majoro and Parker. The Amakhosi millions have seen fit not to team up the newly-signed Bafana pairing of Tower Mathoho and Morgan Gould which laid the foundations for last week’s Gauteng Challenge triumph over Moroka Swallows and Wits.
Before tomorrow’s game, Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune, the man responsible for sending his penalty over the bar at the Carling Cup last season and gifting the first trophy to Pirates, says: “We don’t want to lose this competition two years in a row. We want to set the tone for the rest of the season.
“It is really only a friendly, but pride is at stake. Chiefs used to  be known as the cup kings. We want cups to come to our cabinet this season.”
With Khune’s failed penalty attempt last year probably still orbiting the earth, the Bafana No1 grinned: “I don’t think this one will be decided by penalties but if it happens, we are ready for it.”
Oupa Manyisa, who starts for Pirates tomorrow, says: “We can beat Chiefs. We will transform what we have been doing in training.”
And he’s probably right. McCarthy has apparently lost the “love handles” and slimmed down ready for the new season having impressed when it mattered in the title race last season. Strike-partner Tokelo Rantie was apparently considered to expensive to sign permanently - he flies back to IFK Hassleholm in Sweden on Sunday - but Zimbabwe striker Takesure Chinyama is named in their squad for next season, listed below. He won’t start tomorrow in a match many consider to be an unfair advantage for the big two in South African football, with the whole edifice struggling for sponsors right now.
There are other highlights tomorrow of course. You could watch the much-hyped all-South African Super 15 rugby semi-final between the Sharks and Stormers at Newlands kicking off at 8.30pm on SuperSport1 or Banyana Banyana’s second Olympic game against Canada in Coventry on SABC1 at 3.45pm.
But everyone knows the Soweto derby, “friendly” or not, will be the big one tomorrow. And Pirates have to be favourites to deliver the first major blow of the new season.
NOTE: I am NOT a Kaizer Chiefs fan. I have thrown my considerable weight behind AmaZulu, my rivals when I followed Umlazi Bush Buck in the early 80s.
As a special favour to the Ghost, I’ve listed the full 31-man Orlando Pirates squad for the season…. with shirt numbers. The double-treble winners remain favourites for the PSL crown… no matter who sponsors it for how much.
Moeneeb Josephs – 16
Senzo Meyiwa – 1
Brighton Mhlongo – 41
Ntando Nkala – 44
Rooi Mahamutsa – 28
Lucky Lekgwathi – 14
Siyabonga Sangweni – 21
Mbongeni Gumede – 33
Robyn Johannes – 30
Happy Jele – 4
Bheki Nzunga – 19
Thabo Matlaba – 8
Patrick Phungwayo – 3
Ayanda Gcaba – 2
Oupa Manyisa – 20
Manti Moholo – 35
Thendani Ntshumayelo – 6
Andile Jali – 15
Onyekachi Onkonkwo – 5
Mpho Makola – 27
Mark Mayambela – 12
Daine Klate – 7
Sifiso Myeni – 11
Khethowakhe Masuku – 24
Tlou Segolela – 23
Rudolf Bester – 25
Thulasizwe Mbuyane – 18
Bongani Ndulula – 9
Ndumiso Mabena – 26
Benni McCarthy – 17
Takesure Chinyama – 34

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