JOHANNESBURG - The 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 Saturday's Carling Black Label Champion Cup Soweto derby at FNB Stadium (Kick-off 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 centre-forward 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