The South African soccer season officially opens this weekend with the top eight teams from last season contesting the MTN8. Bidvest Wits and Bloemfontein Celtic will kick off proceedings on Friday night in the first quarter-final. This is a repeat fixture of the Charity Showdown two weeks ago, where Celtic edged Wits 1-0.
To Win (90mins)
Bidvest Wits 11/10
Bloemfontein Celtic 22/10
Wits had a superb 2013/14 season, finishing third on the log behind Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs. The Clever Boys defeated Ajax Cape Town 3-1 in a pre-season friendly at the Athlone Stadium last Friday night. The Urban Warriors took the lead via Nathan Paulse but Wits went on to win after a brace from new signing Christopher Katongo. Another new face in Henrico Botes also got on the scoresheet, as Gavin Hunt’s men came back to dominate the fixture. Wits then beat Moroka Swallows 1-0 on Saturday. Besides Katongo and Botes joining Wits, the Clever Boys have snapped up some good talent including Dillon Sheppard from Maritzburg United and Buhle Mkhwanazi from University of Pretoria. Katongo will most definitely fill the void left by Benjani Mwaruwari and is expected to form a deadly combination with Sthembiso Ngcobo upfront.
Bloemfontein Celtic boosted team morale two weeks back, winning the Charity Showdown without conceding a goal in two matches. They started the tournament ousting Wits 1-0 and went on to beat AmaZulu 2-0 in the final. Celtic, spurred on by their passionate support base, finished their season on a good note clinching sixth spot and more importantly a place in the MTN8. Phunya Sele Sele started the season badly and switched coaches by employing German tactician Ernst Middendorp and he then improved the team as they gradually made their way to the top half of the table.
VERDICT: Bidvest Wits 11/10
These sides met four times last season, with Wits amazingly winning all four encounters while scoring nine goals and conceding just three. The Clever Boys have home advantage and Celtic are a team who rarely wins on the road. Back Wits for the win.