The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
WITH a week to go before voting closes for this year’s Carling Black Label Cup, Zimbabweans, Khama Billiat as well as Willard Katsande are firmly in the Kaizer Chiefs starting lineup for the Soweto showdown against Orlando Pirates on 1 August.
Billiat, a second half substitute for Kaizer Chiefs in the Confederation of African Football Champions League final against Egyptian giants Al Ahly in Morocco on Saturday had by Monday amassed a total of 103 895 votes.
Katsande, who started for Amakhosi in the 3-0 defeat at the hands of Al Ahly had on Monday secured 48 458 votes to start in midfield against Pirates.
The 30-year old Billiat is the third most voted for player in this year’s Carling Cup. Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune is the most popular player with a whopping 168 055 votes, followed by Amakhosi’s Serbian striker, Samir Nurkovic who has been voted for 165 871 times.
For the Buccaneers, Malawian striker Gabadinho Mhango is their most voted for player with 96 199 votes, followed by another foreigner, Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Ofori with 87 311 while Bafana Bafana striker Zakhele Lepasa has been voted 86 723 times.
Having not taken place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Carling Black Label is making a return this in 2021, albeit without the fans.
This year’s Carling Black Label Cup is taking place at the Orlando Stadium, with the date also changed from 31 July to 1 August. It is the first time that the match between the Soweto giants is not taking place at the FNB Stadium. The shift was necessitated by the need to avoid a clash with a Springboks versus the British and Irish Lions encounter at FNB Stadium on 31 July.
While fans will not be allowed into Orlando Stadium, organisers have given the supporters of the two Soweto giants even more powers to influence the game.
Fans will this year not only get to choose the line ups, they will 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.