For one day, the inmates ran the asylum in South African soccer. Fans of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates selected their respective teams' starting lineups via text message in Sunday's Soweto derby, the BBC reports.
Cellular phone provider Vodacom helped organize a fan-selected exhibition between South Africa's fiercest rivals. Over 11 million fans voted in the unique game, with goalkeepers Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs) and Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates) garnering the most votes.
Over 92,000 fans flocked to the massive Soccer City Stadium in Nasrec, Johannesburg for the friendly, and they were treated to a tense encounter.
Chiefs took the lead through a 10th minute goal from one-time Orlando youth team member Abia Nale, only to see Pirates equalize in stoppage-time through former European standout Benni McCarthy. The game went all the way to penalties with Orlando's Ndumiso Mabena scoring the winning spot kick of an exciting contest.
However, fans would have undoubtedly been disappointed that 2010 FIFA World Cup hero Siphiwe Tshabalala (also part of the infamous "qualification that wasn't" for the 2012 African Cup of Nations) missed out through injury.
The clubs may be intense rivals on the playing field, but have shrewdly joined forces in the commercial realm. The two have recently renewed an unusual, yet lucrative joint sponsorship deal with Vodacom — South Africa's largest cellular network — worth around one billion rand (almost $122 million) over five years.
The victory on penalties is the second in as many years for Pirates. Orlando won last year's pre-season derby with a 4-3 victory through spot kicks, though the game itself showed that passion and tactical savvy are very different animals.
Then-Kaizer Chiefs' boss Vladimir Vermezovic didn't see the fans' collective wisdom in a lineup featuring a right back on the left, a center back on the right, and a midfield comprised of four attacking players. At least they didn't vote Yao Ming and his bum foot into the starting 11, which is more than the NBA can say.
Orlando will begin its quest for a Premier Soccer League three-peat when it kicks off its season against Golden Arrows on August 10th. Meanwhile, Kaizer Chiefs start its campaign the next day in Durban, against AmaZulu FC.
Thumbnail via Flickr/AyJay1980