By Bhongo Jacob
Mdantsane’s Sisa Dukashe Stadium was packed with avid soccer fans from across the Eastern Cape all there to witness Chippa United take on Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs during the inaugural Premier’s Cup match at the weekend.
The light rain 10 minutes before the start of Saturday’s game did little to dampen the spirits of the 14000 supporters at the sold out match. Chippa won by 1-0 and National Football Supporters’ Association (NAFSA) secretary general Siyabulela Makunga praised East London fans for the attendance.
“It was a beautiful game of football and this was an exciting day for not only Chippa United but for the entire province. It is good for local economic development every time we have teams like Chiefs coming to our shores.”
He said the province needed more top-flight matches. “We had people travelling from all over to come and see their favourite players. This is confirmation that the Eastern Cape is ready to host even international football events.”
“What we also enjoyed is that it was incident-free and we know that it is going to continue to be like that because there is collective corporation between government, football stakeholders and supporters.
“We can host these big games in Mdantsane, we have done it with Sundowns, Pirates and Bafana Bafana.”
His words were echoed by one of the most recognisable faces in SA soccer fan world: Botha Msila.
“This shows us that we do not travel from far just for fun but to add value to the game. People did not get tickets for free, they bought them and that says the PSL and Safa must consider Mdantsane as a venue for big games because these fans rally behind any teams that is coming to play here.”
Sports, recreation, arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina was ecstatic after the game. “This was a beautiful game, the discipline among our supporters was perfect, they have a motto that says no to hooliganism at the stadium and yes to supporting soccer.”
“Fans did not come here late and there were no fake tickets being sold and we have seen that being displayed each and every time in our province.”
Majodina praised referee Akhona Makalima for her handling of the game.
“She was brilliant, everyone needs to see that women in the Eastern Cape are respected. We are honoured that for the first week of Women’s Month, a big game like this was given to a woman who was not shy to give out yellow and red cards to the players.”
R300 000 was donated by Chippa chairman Siviwe Mpengesi towards soccer development in the region to BCM Safa president Prince Sibam.
“Our people are responding well to top flight football. These games will bring back the interest of football to our people and the amount we have been given by Chippa will go a long way in helping with developing our players,” said Sibam.
Mdantsane police spokesman Captain Nkosikho Mzuku said there were no reported incidents after the game.