The battlelines have been drawn for the highly anticipated Premier’s Cup encounter between Chippa United and Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs at Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane today.
The Chilli Boys will be looking to bring Amakhosi crashing down to earth following their win against Orlando Pirates in last weekend’s Carling Black Label Cup at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
With the NU2 venue being a happy hunting ground for the Chilli Boys, coach Dan “Dance” Malesela’s charges enter the match in full confidence.
The PE-based pride of the Eastern Cape will be determined to send a strong message ahead of the start of the Absa Premiership later this month, by upending the Glamour Boys. Last season Chippa thumped Chiefs 3-1 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium while the Naturena outfit were 1-0 victors in the return leg in Johannesburg.
Both sides are likely to give new recruits Brighton Mhlongo, the impressive Kurt Lentjies, Zitha Macheke and Samuel Juries a run out.
The prodigal son and former captain James Okwuouso, who left for Pirates last season, is also expected to be given a run in the heart of defence. He will be eager to prove that being a benchwarmer for Pirates has not made him a soft defender by ensuring Gustavo Paez and Bernard Parker do not get the better of him and fellow defenders.
For Chiefs, Bhongolwethu Jayiya and Dumisani Zuma will also likely be given a run.
Dribbling wizard Mark Mayambela who has recently returned from Ajax Cape Town says he will use today’s game to repay chairman Chippa Mpengesi for the faith he has shown in him.
Chippa fans will also be keen to see striker Rhulani Manzini back on the field as he returns from injury.
Both teams said they will go all out today as the game will also set a barometer for the league.
With the 14 000 capacity stadium expected to be packed to capacity, fans are expected to play an important role in deciding which side will emerge victorious.
During a press conference on Thursday, Chiefs vice-captain Siphiwe “Shabba” Tshabalala and Mayambela reiterated the importance of the 12th man.
“It’s always humbling to play in a packed stadium. You don’t want to play in an empty stadium. It’s every footballer’s dream to play in a packed stadium. We want to be close to our fans here. The environment is different and the vibe is also different. The fans always give us that lift,” said Tshabalala.
The left winger missed last weekend’s Soweto derby but has recovered from injury.
Mayambela, who said it felt like he never left the Chilli Boys, said they were ready to show what they made of. “It’s wonderful to be part of the Premier’s Cup and it’s a great initiative not only for football but also for the people of the province,” he said.
Making the game more special is the fact that this will be the first time that Chiefs play at Sisa Dukashe Stadium while they last played in Buffalo City Metro 13 years ago.
Security has been beefed up for the game.
Tickets are R20 for children aged 12 and younger while tickets for adults cost R60 at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers stores.