The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
DEFENSIVE midfielder, Willard Katsande has joined fellow Zimbabwean Khama Billiat in the Kaizer Chiefs starting lineup for this year’s Carling Black Label Cup against Orlando Pirates.
According to voting figures released on Monday when 37 days were left to vote, 22 212 Amakhosi fans want the 35-year-old Katsande to start against the Buccaneers at the Orlando Stadium on 1 August. In the first two weeks of voting, Katsande was not appearing in the Chiefs starting lineup but has now garnered enough votes to force his way into the first eleven.
Billiat meanwhile has now cemented his place in the starting lineup further as he now has 53 071 votes, up from the 34 455 ballots he had a week ago. It means he has gained 18 616 votes in a week.
The 30-year Billiat is the third most voted for player in this year’s Carling Black Label Cup. Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is the most popular player with 91 494 votes, up from 60 046 he had last week. Khune is followed by Serbian striker Samir Nurković who has 84 412 votes, up from 55 433 last week.
Malawian striker, Gabadinho Mhango has the most votes for Orlando Pirates with 50 966, followed by another foreigner, Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Ofori on 43 918 while Bafana Bafana striker Zakhele Lepasa is third with 43 209. There is still no sign of Zimbabwean Terrence Dzvukamanja in the Pirates starting lineup. Dzvukamanja found the going tough in his debut season for the Sea Robbers after joining them from the now defunct Bidvest Wits in September last year.
In the 2019 Carling Black Label Cup, Billiat was the only Zimbabwean who made it into the starting lineup when he made his debut appearance in the popular pre-season Soweto showdown. Billiat joined Chiefs from Mamelodi Sundowns in 2018 but had to wait for 2019 to make his debut in the Carling Black Label Cup. In 2018, the Carling Black Label Cup did not take place because of the Fifa World Cup in Russia. Owners of the Carling Black Label brand, AB InBev had one of the its product sponsor the World Cup.
Last year, the Carling Black Label Cup did not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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 teams 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.