KAIZER Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fans will be disappointed to know that they will not be watching their favourite clubs when they take each other in the annual exciting Vodacom Challenge this year.
This after the tournament promoters, SAIL confirmed their decision to postpone the 2012 edition, citing a number of influencing factors including failure to reach agreements with various parties as the reason.
Enzo Scarcella, Managing Executive: Vodacom Marketing, expressed Vodacom’s support of the decision made by SAIL and reinforced their commitment to delivering a world class Vodacom Challenge in 2013 based on 13 years of sponsoring a successful tournament.
The competition which was first played in 1999 and has brought some of the top European and African teams to South African shores including Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.
The tournament promoters are committed to successfully hosting the Vodacom Challenge, which will kick off in 2013 and continue annually thereafter.
Tournament Promoter, Jabu Mathibela of SAIL explained the rationale behind the decision,
“due to time constraints we felt that at this late stage of the season we would not have done the tournament any justice. We pride ourselves on operational excellence and the limited time frames would have compromised the quality of the product which South Africans have grown to know and love. SAIL has always been committed to delivering a great soccer experience to the fans and we are continuing with this in 2013. We apologise to all of our Vodacom Challenge fans.”
The Vodacom Challenge backround:
Originally known as the Vodacom African Challenge, the competition served as a means for communications giant Vodacom to leverage its sponsorship of Soweto giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
In 1999 Asec Mimosa, reigning African champions, were invited to the pre-season tournament along with Tunisia’s Esperance. The final was contested between Orlando Pirates and Esperance, with the Buccaneers walking away 4-1 victors. With both Morocco and South Africa bidding for the right to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Morocco’s Raja Casablanca withdrew from the Challenge because they felt it would be in conflict of the battle to win the hosting rights. Power Dynamos (Zambia) were added as a late replacement and would contest the Challenge with Africa Sport (Ivory Coast), holders of the African Cup Winners Cup title. The Soweto derby final failed to live up to its pre-match hype, with just one goal proving to be the difference as Kaizer Chiefs clinched the win and bragging rights. The following year, Ghanaian clubs Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak were invited to play.
The 2001 edition will best be remembered as a dedication to the 43 fans who died at Ellis Park just a few months earlier and the 126 supporters who perished at the Accra Sports Stadium during a match between Hearts and Kotoko a few weeks before the Ellis Park tragedy. With no goals in regulation time, the final was decided in a penalty shootout and it was the Mighty Amakhosi who emerged victorious after beating Asante Kotoko 3-2 on penalties.
Asante Kotoko returned for the 2002 edition and were joined by St EloiLupopo (DRC). The final between defending champions Kaizer Chiefs and St EloiLupopo was decided by a solitary Musasa goal, which proved enough for victory and also ensured that the DRC team became the first visiting team to lift the Vodacom Challenge trophy since its inception.
St EloiLupopo returned in 2003 to defending their title but faced stiff competition from compatriots TP Mazembe but this was the year for revenge for Amakhosi who won their third final after winning 3-2 on penalties against TP Mazembe.
Looking for victory in the 2004 edition of the Vodacom Challenge, TP Mazembe were back along with newcomers AS Vita, who dished up a few surprises en route to the final where they faced off with Chiefs. David Mathebula’s goal in the 80th minute looked to be enough to secure victory for Chiefs but the visitors equalized in the 89th minute, once again sending the Vodacom Challenge final into a penalty shootout. AS Vita were crowned 2004 champions after beating the Amakhosi 4-3 on penalties.
The 2005 Vodacom Challenge saw the return of AS Vita along with Zambia’s Green Buffaloes, but both visiting teams fell short at the first hurdle, setting up a heated Soweto Derby final. After a six-year wait, Pirates clinched the trophy with a 2-1 win in Durban. The format was changed in 2006 with Chiefs and Pirates now gearing up to face European opposition. Manchester United was the first English team to compete in the Vodacom Challenge. Pirates and Chiefs each took on the multiple English Premier League champions in exhibition matches, followed by a derby to determine which Soweto team would play the visitors. Chiefs beat Pirates to book their spot in the final, which was yet again decided on penalties, which Chiefs won 4-3. 2007 was the turn of Tottenham Hotspur to visit South Africa. Pirates beat Chiefs to reach the final but were just no match for Spurs who cruised to a 3-0 win to lift the Vodacom Challenge trophy.
With revenge on their minds, United were back for the 2008 edition of the tournament and unlike the 2006 final, they thumped Chiefs 4-0 to ensure that the Vodacom Challenge trophy once again travelled to distant shores. In 2009, Amakhosi won the right to face Manchester City in the final at Loftus Versfeld. Jeffrey Ntuka’s goal was enough to secure a fifth Vodacom Challenge title for Kaizer Chiefs. The Vodacom Challenge did not take place in 2010 due to the FIFA World Cup.