Friday, 09 September
With the first Soweto derby of the season between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs already set for next month, the epic fixture on October 29 could be the start of many in this campaign.
The two arch-rivals will in all likelihood meet again in the Carling Black Label Cup on November 12, the exhibition tournament which will now include two other PSL teams that will also be voted into the one-day competition by the fans.
But before then, wins for both sides in their MTN8 semifinals will set up a Soweto derby final in the Wafa Wafa tournament on November 5 – that is if Pirates eliminate Mamelodi Sundowns and Chiefs take out AmaZulu in the last four of the R8 million winner-takes-all competition.
Apart from the second round meeting in the league early next year, the Nedbank Cup draw could also throw in another Pirates versus Chiefs clash like it happened when they met in the last 16 of the 2015/16 edition of the Ke Yona competition.
READ: Tim Spirit | The Stellies-Chiefs game was an accident waiting to happen
For now, the match-up between the two powerhouses in the Black Label contest is almost guaranteed and it looks like the Bucs and Amakhosi fans will make sure of it through the votes.
This is not to be confused with the Carling Knockout Cup, the new knockout competition scheduled to start in the 2023/2024 season and is inclusive of all 16 premier division teams.
By Tuesday, Chiefs were already leading the way on the Black Label Cup voting with 87 000 votes, to Pirates’ 58 945.
Third-placed Sundowns had 27 553, while little separated KwaZulu-Natal rivals AmaZulu (4 992) and Royal AM (4 288) at fourth and fifth places, respectively.
READ: Zwane spared Soweto derby pressure as Chiefs draw AmaZulu in MTN8 semis, Pirates to face Sundowns
The “beer cup”, as some call it, no longer just features Pirates and Chiefs as it has over the past decade, but four teams will participate.
The draw will pit the top two leading sides against one another, while the third-placed side will face the team with the fourth most votes.
As for the likely repeat of the Soweto derbies across all competitions this season, Pirates attacker Vincent Pule is not complaining.
Instead, the 30-year-old is excited that the new developments coincide with the return of fans to the stadiums after two years of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and lockdowns.
READ: Tyson Hlatshwayo will hold nothing back against former team Pirates
Pule and his teammates played six Soweto derbies without the fans since October 2020.
“It’s really motivating for us to see the fans back in the stadiums. We are really happy and looking forward to playing at the FNB Stadium again with the fans,” Pule told City Press on the sidelines of the launch of the Carling Cup at the imposing arena on Tuesday.
The one-day event will be staged at the 90 000-seater on November 12.
Added Pule: “We are glad we are number two on the [Carling Cup fan voting] standings, which of course if it ends this way, we are definitely going to play Chiefs. Playing the Soweto derby over and over again is not tiring.
The most times Pirates and Chiefs have played each other in one season was five in the 2010/11 campaign. Chiefs claimed the first round league tie 3-1, while the reverse fixture ended in a 1-1 draw.
In cup meetings, Pirates won the two-leg MTN8 semifinals 2-1 on aggregate, while Amakhosi lifted the Telkom Knockout trophy courtesy of a 3-0 win in the final.
The 2013/14 and 2015/16 seasons presented four derbies across all competitions.
Giving fans what they want
Meanwhile, Carling Black Label brand director Arné Rust said fans have been asking for more teams to take part in the competition and the newly formated four-team Carling Cup was the answer.
“Any of the 16 PSL teams can be voted in,” Rust said during the launch, adding that the fans should buy the beer and follow the instructions on the pack to vote in their teams.
Explaining how the four-team format came about, Rust said: “Once were we able to secure the 2023 Knockout Cup, which included all 16 teams and it’s going to be eight weeks full PSL tournament, we were thinking ‘that’s next year, how do we give the fans a taste, something like a portion of what next year’s tournament will be like’. That’s why we are here today saying ‘avulekile amasango’ [Carling Cup slogan loosely translating to ‘the gates are open’].”
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