The 2014 Carling Black Label Cup voting has been open for just a matter of weeks and already, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fans have cast over 5, 3 million votes for their line-ups ahead of the showpiece fixture at FNB Stadium on July 26. The teams, chosen by Champion Coaches from around the country are starting to take shape, as fans continue to have their coaching voices heard. Voting for fans this year has also been made to be more easily accessible, as they can now go onto the Carling Black Label website – www.carlingblacklabel.co.za and put together their strongest starting line-ups.
There are certainly a few surprises in the Kaizer Chiefs line-up, with the exclusion of the 2013/2014 PSL season’s top-scorer Bernard Parker. Fans have voted for Knowledge Musona and Katlego Mphela to start ahead of Parker, however, he is not far behind with votes and could certainly still make the starting XI. The midfield has a very familiar look to it, with wide players George Lebese and Siphiwe Tshabalala, as well as strong-men Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Willard Katsande operating in the engine room.
But George Maluleka is just a few thousand votes off the pace and could well win his place in the starting line-up if Amakhosi fans get behind him. Siboniso Gaxa and Tsepo Masilela are the two fullbacks selected so far, while Tefu Mashamaite and Eric Mathoho are the preferred central defensive partnership to date. Not surprisingly perhaps, goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is the elite choice for between the sticks, and also once again has the most votes of any player on either side, almost three times as many as opposite number Senzo Meyiwa from Orlando Pirates.
Meyiwa is the top pick among the Pirates keepers and it looks hard for either Fatau Dauda or Brighton Mhlongo to unseat him at this stage. Happy Jele and Thabo Matlaba are the full back choices at the moment, while the ever popular Siyabonga Sangweni is among the central defensive selections despite not having featured much in the last 15 months due to injury. He has so far been paired with Rooi Mahamutsa, with that duo keeping skipper Lucky Lekgwathi out of the side.
There is plenty of time to change that though. Orlando Pirates fans have so far gone for the pace of Tlou Segolela on the right-wing and the guile of Daine Klate on the left. Oupa Manyisa will anchor the midfield along with playmaker Sifiso Myeni, though Thandani Ntshumayelo will hope to get enough votes to force him into the starting line-up.
Lehlohonolo Majoro scored the winning goal for Kaizer Chiefs against Orlando Pirates in this fixture last year but has since switched sides and is now a Buccaneer. He has been incredibly popular with The Ghost since his arrival and that shows in the voting as he is the most favourable striker among supporters. At this stage fans have selected Kermit Erasmus to play alongside him, with Lennox Bacela a fairly distant third and on the bench.
The concept sees supporters vote for the starting line-ups of the Soweto giants until 22 July 2014. Fans can do this by purchasing a Carling Black Label beer and either dialing *120*764* or going to www.carlingblacklabel.co.za. They must then enter their unique code found on the underside of the bottle cap or can pull ring and the # sign (with no spaces in between), and can then choose the team they would like to manage, and the players they would like to see start.
The Carling Black initiative also comes with an experience of a life time for two lucky fans; one representing Kaizer Chiefs and the other Orlando Pirates. The two “consumer coaches” will be selected to be coaches of their respective teams on game day and get to be with their teams at training, sit in the pre-match briefing and be part of the dug-out with their favourite team. In order to be eligible for this competition, Champion Coaches must vote either via their cellphone or at www.carlingblacklabel.co.za a minimum of 11 times.
Fans can further join the Coaches Forum to take their coaching credentials to the next level with exclusive interviews and content, improved player stats and a chance to win a share of R3 million airtime or tickets to the game. The Carling Black Label Cup has been a massive hit with fans since its inception in 2011. Orlando Pirates won the first two installments on penalties, before Kaizer Chiefs claimed their first title last season.
Kaizer Chiefs (as at 25/5/14): Itumeleng Khune (816,131) – Siboniso Gaxa (100,790), Tefu Mashamaite (121, 439), Eric Mathoho (141,111), Tsepo Masilela (110, 158) – George Lebese (129,715), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (120,184), Willard Katsande (112,675), Siphiwe Tshabalala (137,048) – Katlego Mphela (236,877), Knowledge Musona (268,132).
Orlando Pirates (as at 25/5/14): Senzo Meyiwa (378,236) – Happy Jele (87,154), Siyabonga Sangweni (81,877), Rooi Mahamutsa (77,757), Thabo Matlaba (91,856) – Tlou Segolela (71,238), Oupa Manyisa (105,849), Sifiso Myeni (55,459), Daine Klate (71,238) – Lehlohonolo Majoro (169, 571), Kermit Erasmus (145,007)