Nothing makes me happier than a decent batch of midweek clashes to help ease into another bumper sporting weekend. The four sides involved in Telkom Knockout action on the weekend are all back to league commitments, some of them licking their wounds after disappointing showings. With just four games to preview, an all inclusive multiple is the way to go here, so lets get down to it.
SuperSport United vs Ajax Cape Town | Tuesday 26 November | Lucas Moripe Stadium | 19:30
I went with my head on Saturday and tipped SuperSport to knock out my beloved Pirates, with the idea of their momentum in the league transforming into cup success too. Clearly I was wrong, despite them leading at halftime. The Matsatsantsa faithful will be bitterly upset, and will be turning to this fixture to rectify things. Ajax’s stuttering campaign stops off at a station they’ll be very wary of. SuperSport are good at preventing a loss at all costs, and often play poorly but still come away with points. This habit of theirs means they find themselves in third, having lost just two of their ten games so far. Ajax haven’t been so lucky, and my continued dislike for Ertugral’s poorly structured squad seems to be the root cause for their lack of success. They’ve yet to win away from home so far, scoring just one goal in five games on the road. Historically SuperSport have dominated this fixture, only losing to Ajax once at the Lucas Moripe Stadium. Supersport are short favourite at 8/10, but are a decent enough banker in these four fixtures.
Maritzburg United vs Orlando Pirates | Wednesday 27 November | Harry Gwala Stadium | 19:30
Maritzburg’s tough run of home fixtures continues. Most PSL teams value the support received on home turf, and look to these fixtures to collect as many three-pointers as possible. But with Pirates coming to town, and the Team Of Choice having faced Platinum Stars and SuperSport United in their previous two meetings, gaining said wins has been difficult. It’s seen Maritzburg pick up just one in their last six games in all competitions. Pirates delighted fans with a not entirely unexpected win on the weekend to reach their third cup final this season. The Sea Robbers’ successes out of the league have been well covered of late, but with just three league games under their belt this season, their PSL form is yet to be determined. Obviously Roger De Sa will be wanting to convert his successes into a great league run, but that’s often easier said than done. They’ve had six games postponed so far, so there’ll be mountains of catching up to do for them before and after the Christmas break. Had this game been in Orlando, I wouldn’t have hesitated on a Bucs win; a venue where Maritzburg have struggled historically. But in KZN, the home side have been known to squeeze points out of big fixtures. With an inclination to hedge your bets on a draw as well as a Pirates win, you may want to double chance this one. I’m going for a Pirates win at 17/20, but at 22/10 for the draw, it’s always worth considering, especially in Pietermaritzburg.
Kaizer Chiefs vs Polokwane City | Wednesday 27 November | FNB Stadium | 19:30
The entire Chiefs family will still be reeling from the disappointment of Saturday’s Telkom Knockout exit. At home, in front of their faithful, they failed to gel as a unit and put on a weak showing against a Dikwena side that didn’t have to do too much to win. Stuart Baxter has publicly shamed his team’s performance, venting his frustration at their inability to link up their individual talents into a great team performance. There hasn’t been much time to mend this, and they may consider themselves lucky to be facing a weaker side just days after their cup loss. Polokwane City will conversely be feeling rather chipper about themselves of late. After they struggled to get going at the beginning of the season, they’ve only lost one of their last five games, and have climbed to a respectable tenth place. Whilst its still far too early to relax, they seem to be approaching each game with more optimism and confidence than the last, and they’ll need to keep their heads up going into this one. Their 22-year-old striker, Sphesihle Nzimande, will have to continue his recent form if City are going to have a chance to upset things in this one. Once again, the bookies and I are too shy to bet against a far superior outfit in Chiefs. At 4/10, it’s too short to blow your socks off, but plug it into the multiple and hope things go your way.
AmaZulu vs Platinum Stars | Wednesday 27 November | Princess Magogo Stadium | 19:30
Both sides came away from the weekend with moral-boosting results. AmaZulu survived a tough trip to Bethlehem and gained a much needed point, while Stars overcame Chiefs to reach the Telkom Knockout final. Obviously the Stars victory was the standout of the two, but Usuthu will be over the moon with their result; a notoriously difficult place to travel to. Stars have had a slightly better run than AmaZulu so far this season, with the Durban-based side struggling to notch up wins of late. They haven’t won any of their last eight games in all competitions, and there are some cracks starting to show in Craig Rosslee’s ship. Stars will more than likely build on their recent triumph and bring a bullish strategy to game, in the hope to continue their three match unbeaten streak. Interestingly enough, its Usuthu that have had the upper hand in this fixture historically, but one will have to look to recent form for a truer reflection of the possible outcome. Draws are always a dangerous thing to pick as part of a multiple, but outright at 21/10 it looks good value. If you’re going for the four-leg multiple I suggested, rather double up with a draw or Stars win; a AmaZulu victory looks incredibly unlikely.
MULTIPLE: SuperSport United/Orlando Pirates/Kaizer Chiefs/Platinum Stars 99/10