Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic will battle it out for the MTN8 title at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Josef Zinnbauer’s charges enter the clash as heavy favourites, but they’ll have to bring their A-game against John Maduka’s side, who overcame hefty odds to beat favourites Mamelodi Sundowns and holders SuperSport United.
Pirates last won the MTN8 in 2011 and Celtic have not been champions of this competition since 2005 when it was known as SAA Super 8.
Saturday 12 December – 18:00
Moses Mabhida Stadium
To Win Match
15/4 Bloemfontein Celtic | Draw 5/2 | Orlando Pirates 7/10
To Lift Cup
Bloem Celtic 21/10
Orlando Pirates 7/20
Bloemfontein Celtic are aiming to win their first trophy since the 2012/13 campaign when they lifted the Telkom Knockout Cup under then-coach Clinton Larsen. Standing in Celtic’s way is a newly assembled Orlando Pirates team who many analysts and pundits have tipped for silverware this season.
It certainly will be a tough task for Maduka’s team but Siwelele have proven they are adept at punching above their weight. Coming up against a big side like Pirates holds no fear and it will bring the best out of the squad.
This will be Celtic’s third final in the last few years and Maduka will be desperate for a better ending after his team went down to Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup final at the end of last season.
Maduka captained Celtic to glory in this very competition in 2005 when it was still called the SAA Super 8. Come Saturday, he’ll be looking to make history and become the first person to lead his team to top-eight cups as captain and coach.
Worryingly for Siwelele, there’s been a lack of creativity in midfield and a shortage of firepower upfront, having found the back of the net just four times in the DStv Premiership.
Orlando Pirates remain unbeaten in the DStv Premiership but sit fourth for drawing too many games. The Buccaneers have won just two and drawn four of their six matches played in the league.
However, one of those victories came against Bloem Celtic at the beginning of the month. Siphesihle Ndlovu came off the bench to score the winner as the Bucs secured a 1-0 win at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium.
With that victory still fresh in their minds, Zinnbauer’s side will fancy another win over Siwelele and bring the club’s six-year trophy drought to an end. The Buccaneers have won the MTN8 trophy twice and Zinnbauer will be under pressure to add the third.
Pirates kicked off their MTN8 campaign by beating Cape Town City 1-0 in the quarter-finals before defeating Kaizer Chiefs 5-0 over two legs in the semis. Zinnbauer’s side haven’t conceded a goal in the competition with new signing Thulani Hlatshwayo forming a solid partnership with Ntsikelelo Nyauza.
Vincent Pule netted a well-taken brace in last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Cape Town City in the DStv Premiership and the Bafana Bafana winger will be looking to continue where he left off and help Pirates claim MTN8 glory.
Verdict: Orlando Pirates (7/10)
Zinnbauer’s side haven’t been firing on all cylinders so far this season, but the signs are there, and it’s just a matter of time before they find their rhythm. Celtic lie 14th in the DStv Premiership, having lost three of their five matches. Pirates are the better side with so many X-factor players and I fancy them to win this game and finally end their trophy drought.
Written by Chad Nagel for Hollywoodbets.