The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
DESPITE getting over 130 000 votes for him to start for Kaizer Chiefs against Orlando Pirates in today’s Carling Black Label Cup at Orlando Stadium, Zimbabwean attacking midfielder Khama Billiat is doubtful for the preseason Soweto showdown.
Billiat was voted to start for Amakhosi against the Buccaneers in the match scheduled to kick off at 5pm but reports from Mzansi indicate that the Zimbabwe Warriors talisman has flue like symptoms. Serbian striker, Samir Nurkovic, who is meant to partner Billiat upfront for the Glamour Boys in a 3-5-2 formation is also doubtful. Nurkovic is still recovering from a knee injury, though he did train on Thursday.
Should Billiat and Nurkovic fail to start, the likes of Bernard Parker as well as Leonardo Castro should be lining up to replace the duo in the starting lineup. Billiat and Nurkovic were some of the most popular players in this year’s Carling Black Label Cup. When voting closed last Tuesday, Billiat had been voted for 132 033 times to lead the Amakhosi attack with Nurkovic who had 194 745 votes. Nurkovic was also voted as the first penalty taker for Chiefs should they be awarded a spot kick in 90 minutes.
Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was the most popular player with 189 444 votes. Khune will not only start in goals for Chiefs but will also captain Amakhosi. Bafana Bafana defender, Thulani Hlatshwayo will lead Pirates with their designated penalty taker being Malawian striker Gabadinho Mhango.
Another Zimbabwean, Willard Katsande was meant to be in the Chiefs starting lineup as his votes tally stood at 60 979 at the close of the voting. The 35-year defensive midfielder however had to be withdrawn from the Amakhosi lineup since he is no longer with the club. Katsande’s place in the Chiefs starting lineup was taken up by 22-year old Lebohang Lesako.
The Carling Black Label Cup is making a return this year after it did not did not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. While fans will not be allowed into Orlando Stadium, organisers have gave supporters of the two teams even more powers to influence the game.
Fans this year not only get to choose the line ups, they also get to decide on the captain of their respective team on the day, the formation to be used, who takes the first penalty to be awarded to their team during the game, make live substitutions on Twitter and also choose the Man of the Match. — @Mdawini_29.