Kaizer Chiefs dominate Carling Knockout All-Star XI with flawed fan votes

Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs during the Soweto Derby Press Conference at Multichoice City in Randburg

Kaizer Chiefs' standing as South Africa's most popular football club has been underlined once again by the inclusion of four players in the Carling Knockout All-Star XI despite their first round exit. Seen here: Kaizer Chiefs’ Itumeleng Khune. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Dec 19, 2023


Kaizer Chiefs' standing as South Africa's most popular football club has been underlined once again by the inclusion of four players in the Carling Knockout All-Star XI.

However, it makes a mockery of the concept of an All-Star XI because the Chiefs players failed to star in the competition. Usually, an All-Star XI will include players who made an impact, and the bulk of the team should have come from the four semi-final teams.

At the outset, the fans' choices for the 'Player-of-the Match' in the round of 16 seemed odd because on occasions the recipients were hardly the best players in the match. Initially, this sparked an outcry in the media. At the post-match presentations, the recipients seemed rudely surprised to receive the award at times.

In keeping with the format of the new knockout competition, fans enjoyed the option of voting for the players that were named in the Carling Knockout All-Star XI. The voting stopped after Saturday's final between Stellenbosch and TS Galaxy at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Unmatched popularity

Despite their unmatched popularity in South Africa, it is surprising that Chiefs players managed inclusion at all. Chiefs were dumped in the first round despite home-ground advantage against AmaZulu. It was one of the results that condemned coach Molefi Ntseki to join the list of former Chiefs' coaches.

Well, how about goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune? He's hardly played a game and two weeks ago was slapped with suspension. However, he has long been a fan favourite and for many seasons, one of the country's most popular players.

Khune is joined by teammates Mfundo Vilakazi, Ashley du Preez and Edson Castillo, the Venezuelan-born midfielder.

The country's second most popular team, Orlando Pirates fare the next best with three players in the selection. They are defenders Jabulani Mokone and Nigerian-born Olisa Ndah as well as striker Kermit Erasmus who pulled the most votes in the campaign. A Pirates player rarely proves to be more popular than a Chiefs player.

The Chiefs and Pirates players are joined by Thabo Nkabinde, Masibonge Ngidi, Kagiso Mnguni and Ben Motshwari.

Since the team will be playing the champions Stellenbosch, their players were not selected although star players like Iqraam Rayners and Devon Titus were high up on the polls. They have been among the standout performers in the competition.

However, the selection should have included players from finalists TS Galaxy.

No star for Galaxy’s Ntwari

Galaxy's Fiacre Ntwari is unlucky not to make the team. He has been one of the best goalies in the competition. He was the hero against Mamelodi Sundowns where his saves helped Galaxy win 5-4 on penalties in the round of 16.

Another Galaxy player, Pogiso Sanoka should also have made the team. The centre-back has been solid in defence, and produced a sleuth of match-winning performances for the 'Rockets'.

Galaxy defensive midfielder Mlungisi Mbunjana has been a consistent performer. He captained the side well and led by example with solid defence. He was particularly effective in the match against Sundowns and deservedly won the 'Player-of-the-Match' gong.

The All-Star team will face Stellenbosch on Saturday, December 30, at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

IOL Sport

* The views expressed are not necessarily the views of IOL or Independent Media.

** JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Send us an email with your comments, thoughts or responses to [email protected]. Letters should be a maximum of 500 words, and may be edited for length. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Submissions should include a contact number and physical address (not for publication).