first real test for vermezovic

WHEN Kaizer Chiefs unveiled Vladimir Vermezovic as their new coach last month, he won the hearts of die-hard Amakhosi supporters by saying he is here to win trophies for his new employers.

WHEN Kaizer Chiefs unveiled Vladimir Vermezovic as their new coach last month, he won the hearts of die-hard Amakhosi supporters by saying he is here to win trophies for his new employers.

The Vodacom Challenge is the first title bid for Vermezovic, but they will have to first brush Orlando Pirates aside tonight to feature in their first final on Saturday.

The winner tonight will meet English Premiership club Manchester City in the final at Loftus Stadium.

Chiefs take on Pirates at 8.15pm at Nelson Mandela Sport Complex in Port Elizabeth, a new facility that will be used for the 2010 World Cup.

In a corresponding clash, also played in Port Elizabeth last season, Chiefs beat Pirates 2-0 through goals by Kaizer Motaung Jnr and Jose Torrealba. At that time Bucs mentor Ruud Krol was still trying to settle down after joining Bucs as their new coach. Vermezovic finds himself in a similar situation.

Krol has taken all his troops, including those who represented Bafana Bafana during the Confederations Cup, bar Benson Mhlongo, to Port Elizabeth.

Teko Modise, Katlego Mashego and Innocent Mdledle are all back in action after being rested in their 2-0 win over The Citizens, as City are also known, in Polokwane on Saturday.

Mhlongo, meanwhile, is on honeymoon. New recruit Phenyo Mongala, who made a storming debut for Pirates by scoring one of the best goals of the tournament, is looking forward to his first Soweto derby.

Mongala will be remembered as one of the players who tormented Chiefs' defence, Jimmy Tau in particular, when his former team University of Pretoria eliminated Amakhosi in the Nedbank Cup.

"I could not have asked for a better arrival at Orlando Pirates than to score a goal against Manchester City, that is now water under the bridge and I'm looking forward to (tonight's) match," said Mongala.

"For us the plan is to keep the winning momentum. It will be a tough one against Chiefs, but we are confident of doing well to advance to the final."

Chiefs will once more rest winger Siphiwe Tshabalala, but look set to bring in Nkosinathi Nhleko and Jose Torrealba to ease the pressure on Motaung in front of goal.

Nhleko, who always did well against Pirates when he was still at Jomo Cosmos, said: "It's a brand-new game after Tuesday's loss to Manchester City.

"We'll put up a big fight and we'll definitely be in the final."

Emmanuel Adebayor, the reigning African Footballer of the Year, is expected to make his debut for City on Saturday.

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