Orlando Pirates vs University of Pretoria | Saturday 05 September | Makhulong Stadium | 15:00
The defending Diski Challenge champs, AmaTuks, take on the Buccaneers in the headline game of Saturday’s festival of football.
With four games back-to-back on both days at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa, it’s sure to be a carnival atmosphere, with a crescendo of excitement building up through the day. The PSL have announced that entrance will be free, so everyone’s hoping for bumper attendance and these two teams will probably play when attendance will be at its highest, so it should be a well supported fixture.
To Win (90mins)
University of Pretoria
Shakes Mashaba has named a strong squad for their AFCON qualifier this weekend against Mauritania and the bigger sides like Pirates are short on their regular stars. With less importance on fixtures like the Diski Challenge, coach Eric Tinkler will use the opportunity to give players lacking game time a chance to show what they’re made of. Sides competing will be taking their PSL form into the game and for Pirates, that’s nothing great to write home about. Lacklustre defending has seen them win just one from three, losing to more enthusiastic outfits in Bloem Celtic and SuperSport United. Saturday’s game will give them a chance to rectify this form in a less competitive environment, which will be a great chance for the aforementioned benchwarmers to make an impact. Whether they can step up and represent whilst their seniors are on international duty remains to be seen.
University of Pretoria
They’re the defending champions in a tournament where the title probably means the least. The curse of South African cup competition means teams very rarely defend their cup title. Having said that though, this tournament is designed to give sides lean on international players the chance to pit their best against their PSL rivals. AmaTuks have also had a sluggish start to the PSL, sitting equal with Pirates on three points after their opening trio of league games. Their opponents will more than likely have the bigger fan base on hand to cheer them on, but with a new coach in charge, in the form of Evangelos Vellios, the university side will no doubt put up a good challenge. You can count on AmaTuks making use of a regular side to upset the giants of African football come kick off on Saturday afternoon.
VERDICT: University of Pretoria
I have a theory that when new coaches arrive, their first games are always an elevated performance, regardless of how long they may last in the job. AmaTuks are the defending champions and I wouldn’t be surprised if Eric Tinkler packs the Pirates side with a heap of development players mixed in with a few senior guys not on international duty. This could provide the perfect passage for the university side to come up trumps, and no doubt there’ll be lots of value on offer for the underdogs to win. I’m willing to take the risk and back AmaTuks for the win.