A breath of fresh ‘draught’ for Chiefs and Pi­rates

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MO­HAU RA­MASHIDJA

KAIZER CHIEFS faith­ful have spo­ken, and they reckon Gustavo Paez is ready to start matches, some­thing that coach Steve Kom­phela was not keen on do­ing last sea­son.

The Venezue­lan striker joined Amakhosi in the mid­dle of the last sea­son, and was mainly used as an im­pact player.

But Paez de­liv­ered im­me­di­ately, scor­ing five goals in 18 ap­pear­ances in all com­pe­ti­tions, to an­nounce he was ready to be Chiefs’ main front­man.

The fans saw that and, in to­mor­row’s Car­ling Black La­bel Cham­pion Cup Soweto derby at FNB Sta­dium (Kick­off 3.30pm), the 27-year-old will hope to re­ward his sup­port­ers with a goal or two, as Amakhosi tar­get a third win in this cup friendly.

And though Ryan Moon did won­ders by scor­ing on de­but in Bafana Bafana’s first leg 2018 African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fier against Botswana a few weeks ago, the 20-year-old cen­tre­for­ward is not yet ready to be in Chiefs’ Soweto derby start­ing line-up, as he only man­aged to score a sin­gle goal out of the six matches he fea­tured in for the Glam­our Boys this past sea­son.

An­other wise call made by Chiefs’ sup­port­ers was that they opted to go with the tried and tested in Ge­orge Lebese as a suit­able re­place­ment for the in­jured Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala on the left wing.

Lebese, who only started in 16 matches out of the 25 he fea­tured in in all com­pe­ti­tions last sea­son, will do well to use this as an op­por­tu­nity to con­vince Kom­phela that he’s ready to start and play more games for him, in what will be the 50-year- old coach’s third, and po­ten­tially fi­nal, sea­son at the club.

Goal­keeper Itume­leng Khune, who once again got the most votes, will hope his ex­pe­ri­enced back four com­bi­na­tion will be switched on through­out the match to avoid those last minute er­rors which de­railed their ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

KAIZER CHIEFS START­ING XI:

Khune, Mphahlele, Tower, Gordinho, Masilela, Ek­stein, Kat­sande, Maluleka, Lebese, Parker, Paez THE FOLLY of this cup’s for­mat could not have been made more glar­ing by the omis­sion of Abubaker Mo­bara from the Pi­rates start­ing lineup.

How The Ghost did not pick the one shin­ing star from their club’s oth­er­wise dis­as­trous sea­son serves to con­firm that good old say­ing foot­ball is a game of opin­ions.

But surely even a blind man would have seen Mo­bara’s im­pact for the Buc­ca­neers in the past cam­paign?

One of Pi­rates ma­jor prob­lems last sea­son was leak­ing goal, they let in an as­ton­ish­ing 40. Yet even then, Mo­bara’s class was ev­i­dent as he gave the Pi­rates rear­guard a sem­blance of some steel, com­po­sure and calm­ness.

All he lacked was a good part­ner and I think Jus­tice Cha­bal­ala, back from Chippa United, will be the per­fect man for the job.

Hav­ing said that, I be­lieve Ayanda Gcaba and Happy Jele de­serve the chance to show they still are wor­thy of the fa­mous black and white jer­sey. The duo know they owe it to their fans to de­liver to­mor­row.

Pa­trick Phung­wayo is a player with a lot of po­ten­tial but in­juries have ham­pered his progress over the years. This is an­other chance for him to stamp his au­thor­ity in the lleft-back po­si­tion. Marc Van Heer­den and young Thabo Maele are wait­ing to pounce should he fluff the op­por­tu­nity.

Thabo Mat­laba is one player who al­ways gives his all, even when the chips are down.

Can this Pi­rates back four con­tain the likes of Gustavo Paez, Ge­orge Lebese and Bernard Parker?

No doubt the fans will want to see goals and not an­other drab en­counter de­cided on penal­ties.

But do Pi­rates have the men to do the job?

Tham­sanqa Gabuza and Teniia Ndoro have an­other chance to prove that they will bang in the goals that can pro­pel Pi­rates back to glory days.But it is Oupa Many­isa who will have to make things hap­pen for them by pulling the strings from mid­field.

OR­LANDO PI­RATES START­ING XI: Mpontshane, Mat­laba, Jele, Gcaba, Phung­wayo, Makola, Many­isa, Sarr, Memela, Gabuza, Ndoro

MI­NENHLE MKHIZE

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