Reading Time: 3 minutes

Through format changes and the introduction of technological improvements across the globe, the beautiful game of football has evolved greatly over the years. In line with the Carling Black Label brand purpose for the Carling Black Label Cup, which responds to, and empowers the voice of the Champion fan, the revitalized 2021 Cup returns with the inclusion of technologically-driven advancements while retaining the most voted for game-changers from 2019. The decision to innovative the game further was made in recognizing the necessity to evolve the concept for the 11th edition, while simultaneously remaining true to the elements which are core to the DNA of the Cup. In addition to five “game-changers”, fans of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates have free access to rich player performance data and team statistics on<> to assist them in selecting their strongest starting line-up for the much-awaited fixture set for the 1st of August at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Speaking at a Carling Black Label Cup Supporters trophy tour in Kwa-Mashu, Durban, former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane highlighted the importance of player performance data and team statistics, “Coaches have a difficult job as they are the decision makers. The best way for them to equip themselves is through knowledge and information to help them make well-informed decisions regarding their squad. It is impressive that Carling Black Label is now giving the Champion Coaches access to this information. When selecting players or making substitutions, the fans will base it off insights and statistics on the specific players.” Letsholonyane’s statement was supported by former Orlando Pirates striker and football analyst, Phumudzo Manenzhe who elaborated on how fans can use statistics as they prepare their match day squad. “As an analyst, my work requires access to statistics; for example, we could compare Orlando Pirates goalkeepers Wayne Sandilands and Richard Ofori; one could look at the number of games they have played, how many goals they have conceded as well as how many clean sheets they have kept. Sandilands has kept 10 clean sheets while Ofori has kept 12 clean sheets in all competitions and based on these statistics, Ofori has a little bit of an edge over Sandilands as he leads the goalkeeping votes at Orlando Pirates. Looking at Kaizer Chiefs, Daniel Akpeyi has 11 clean sheets while Itumeleng Khune has 4 clean sheets, however, when looking at experience in a Soweto Derby comparing statistics and data, you will find that Khune has more experience as he has played and won more derbies than his teammate which may be why the Amakhosi stalwart is leading with close to 90 000 votes.” Said Manenzhe.

With just over 20 days to go until voting closes, the current Amakhosi line-up features Khune, Mathoho, Cardoso, Frosler, Mashiane, Ngcobo, Manyama, Zuma, Katsande, Nurkovic & Billiat. In the goalkeeping department, Khune is leading Akpeyi by just under 90 000, while Siyabonga Ngezana is less than 200 votes shy of breaking into the team’s defence force. The midfield will be closely contested as Njabulo Blom is just under 800 votes from Willard Katsande, while Leonardo Castro will need over 21 000 votes to surpass Khama Billiat.

Fans of the “Ghost”, Orlando Pirates ‘current line-up features Ofori, Jele, Hlatshwayo, Maela, Jooste, Lorch, Pule, Motswari, Hotto, Makaringe, Mhango & Lepasa. Similarly, to their opponents, there is gap between the goal-stoppers as Ofori leads Mpontshane by over 37 000 votes. In the defence line, Ntsikelelo Nyauza is nearing Wayde Jooste with just over 3000 votes, as with the midfield where Fortune Makaringe is a little over 1000 votes behind Deon Hotto. Upfront, Tshegofatsho Mabasa will need close to 12 000 votes to catch up to Zakhele Lepasa. Orlando Pirates has confirmed the signing of Bandile Shandu, Goodman Mosele, Monnapule Saleng as well as Kwanda Mngonyama, all of which supporters of the Bucs can select to be part of their match day squad.

As we draw closer to the much-awaited football spectacle, Champion fans continue to use their voices, change the game and experience their game their way as they have been selecting their preferred game-changers along with the starting 11. Itumeleng Khune and Happy Jele are currently leading the captain’s selection game changer for their respective teams, while the Kaizer Chiefs striker with the most votes, Nurkovic, is a clear leader for the penalty-taker votes with close to 5000 votes.  For Orlando Pirates, Mhango will need close to 200 votes to surpass Lepasa who currently leads the penalty-taker votes.
For an opportunity to coach the abovementioned players from the bench, sit-in the pre-match briefing and be the Ultimate Champion Coach, fans of the Soweto Giants can enter by calling in to their favourite SABC sports shows and through USSD. Entry on USSD is free for Vodacom users and 20c per 20 seconds for other networks.

Please refer to Annexure A for a full update on the selected line-ups.