Our football writer previews the eye-catching Telkom Knockout semi-final clash between SuperSport and Orlando Pirates.
Ziwa Mo! The Telkom Knockout Cup final is upon us as SuperSport United and Cape Town City lock horns at the Peter Mokaba Stadium. Both teams come into this game in excellent form with Eric Tinkler’s Citizens leading Stuart Baxter’s SuperSport outfit by three points in the ABSA Premiership. Matsatsantsa are on a 14-game unbeaten run, while City are riding a nine-game undefeated streak.
SuperSport will be playing in their fourth Telkom Knockout final, while Cape Town City will look to earn their first trophy as a club since they bought over Mpumalanga Black Aces before the start of the season. This promises to be a thrilling encounter with both teams’ eyes set on the cash prize of R4 million.
Telkom Knockout Final | Saturday 10 December | Peter Mokaba Stadium | 18:00
To Win (90 Mins)
SuperSport United 13/10 | Draw 21/10 | Cape Town City 2/1
SuperSport United have been excellent this season and have endured a stellar start to their campaign, losing just twice in all competitions – in the MTN8 against Mamelodi Sundowns and against Platinum Stars on the opening day of the season.
It’s not just the results which have seen Matsatsantsa prove to be a formidable threat, but also in the manner in which they’ve beaten some of their opposition. SuperSport are strong contenders for the league this season and it’s just newcomers, Cape Town City, in their way of lifting the Telkom Knockout Cup.
Stuart Baxter’s side needed 120 minutes to get past Ajax Cape Town in the Last 16 of the Telkom Knockout, with Thuso Phala grabbing the game’s only goal. The quarter-finals came which saw SuperSport United kick holders, Sundowns, out of the tournament, winning 3-1 on penalties. In the semi-finals, Matsatsantsa put Orlando Pirates to the sword, beating the Buccaneers by a 1-0 scoreline to book their place in the final.
Matsatsantsa are yet to play Cape Town City and will look to start the clubs head-to-head statistics on a high. One positive for the Pretoria-based side is that they will play at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, which they have used as a second home ground at times.
What’s helped SuperSport United this season is the partnership of Dean Furman and Reneilwe Letsholonyane in midfield. The duo have set the PSL alight, turning defence into attack from the middle of the park.
Further up the pitch, Thabo Mnyamane, Bradley Grobler and Jeremy Brockie have all been just as brilliant for Baxter’s side. We all know of the threat that Grobler and Brockie pose, but Mnyamane has stepped up his game with a string of fine performances in recent weeks. If his form continues like this for SuperSport, the side from the Mother City won’t know what hit them.
Cape Town City
In their first season as a club, Cape Town City have impressed me big time. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Eric Tinkler as a coach, but this season has got me thinking otherwise. Tinkler’s Cape Town City side are unbeaten in nine games in all competitions and come off the back of an emphatic 3-2 win away to Bidvest Wits.
However, it’s safe to say that the Citizens have had an arguably easy run in the Telkom Knockout Cup, beating Bloemfontein Celtic, Baroka FC and Free State Stars to book their place in the final. Despite the fairly decent opposition in the tournament, City have been ruthless in attack, no matter who they are up against.
Club captain, Lebogang Manyama, has led from example on the pitch this season. The 26-year old has repaid the faith that Tinkler has shown in him, bagging seven goals in 12 appearances this season.
The link-up play between him and Aubrey Ngoma hasn’t gone unnoticed by the manager, with Tinkler praising the duo recently. After City’s win over Wits last Friday, Tinkler says he believes that hard work and conditioning have paid off, despite having a concern over the possibility of fatigue.
"Very happy, the work rate from both of them has been phenomenal. There's always been that fear that I have been pushing them too hard," he said. "But I think that that's been the positive, that pushing them. It has really made them to be in good condition,” Tinkler continued.
With the club’s best players in superb form, the team from the Mother City really look tough to beat this season.
Verdict: SuperSport United (13/10)
Matsatsantsa come into this game in untouchable form. Unbeaten in 14 games across all competitions, Baxter’s men are on the longest undefeated streak in the division.
SuperSport United have won this competition just once before and will be raring for more Telkom Knockout silverware in their cabinet. Given the fact that Matsatsantsa have used the Peter Mokaba Stadium as a second home ground at times, they should come out on top. Baxter’s men are tipped to win in 90 minutes at 13/10.
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets