In what could be a disappointment for their fans, Kaizer Chiefs might not play Siphiwe Tshabalala in the Carling Black Label Cup final this weekend.
Amakhosi will be up against their old nemesis Orlando Pirates in their annual preseason cup match at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
But for the thousands of fans who voted Tshabalala into the starting team, as per the rules of their clash, it could be a frustrating experience, come match day.
The extent of Tshabalala’s injury, who hobbled off during a preseason friendly match against Chippa United on Sunday, is not known – and the club could not shed light on the knock as they were still awaiting a medical report.
But Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter may not be persuaded to play Tshabalala anyway, as he will probably look to minimise the risk of losing one of his star players ahead of the new season.
The fans determine the teams’ formations, literally jotting down the starting line-up, and Tshabalala ranked high among a list of favourites to play.
Although he was worried at the sight of Tshabalala limping off the pitch, Baxter said he was happy with his team after they defeated Chippa 4-2 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“It was a good workout, it was a good game of football,” Baxter said.
“I think we got a bit stuck with the formation we played, the diamond midfield; it helped to stop them playing through us but we lost a little bit of our width.
“We worked hard, showed some good signs, some things we have to correct. It was very important to sample our approach to the season.
“It was an opportunity for us to collect information about the individual players and the team,” Baxter said.
Meanwhile, the club will today announce whether or not it will participate in the CAF Champions League next season.
Speculation has been rife that the team might snub the continental tournament, perhaps due to the experience they had in the tourney last season in which they didn’t reach the group stages.
“We have to figure out what is the best option for the club, both in terms of finance and our players’ welfare,” Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung said last week.