Our scribe previews the MTN8 quarter-finals, which gets underway on Friday evening.
The 2016/17 edition of the MTN8 begins this Friday as the Absa Premiership’s top eight finishers from last season battle it out for the grand prize of R8 million. Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates are the most successful sides in the competition’s eight-year history, having won two MTN8 titles each. Apart from the Soweto giants, Platinum Stars are the only other MTN8 winners in this year’s tournament, while last year’s champions Ajax Cape Town will not be around to defend their title after finishing 10th.
Cape Town City will make their bow in the MTN8 on Friday with a clash against Kaizer Chiefs who are looking to add to their swollen trophy cabinet. On Saturday, Platinum Stars will look to put Chippa United to the sword in their bid to emulate their 2013 success, while Bidvest Wits will lock horns with Orlando Pirates at the Bidvest Stadium. We end things off with a mouth-watering clash on Monday between PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United.
Friday 26 August
Cape Town City 15/4 | Draw 5/2 | Kaizer Chiefs 13/20
Cape Town City will face their biggest test yet against two-time MTN8 winners Kaizer Chiefs at Cape Town Stadium on Friday. There’s a sense of optimism for the Johnny-come-latelies though as Eric Tinkler went undefeated against Amakhosi during his one year spell in charge of Pirates. Tinkler faced Steve Komphela’s side four times last season, winning twice – in the PSL and Nedbank Cup. The City Boyz have the talent needed to thrive in this team but their one player of genuine quality is former Chiefs and Pirates striker Lehlohonolo Majoro. Major has excellent pace and skill with the ball at his feet and his finishing is up there with the best strikers in the country.
After winning the Carling Black Label Cup, Chiefs are hungry for more success and will look to reward their fans after losing two cup finals last season. Amakhosi were defeated 1-0 in the MTN8 final by Ajax Cape Town and 3-1 in the Telkom Knockout final by Mamelodi Sundowns. Komphela has an abundance of talent at his disposal, with the likes of Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Keagan Buchanan, Willard Katsande, George Lebese and William Twala. Such a big test might have come too early for Cape Town City and I think Chiefs will win this one comfortably.
Saturday 27 August
Platinum Stars 1/1 | Draw 21/10| Chippa United 5/2
Cavin Johnson guided Platinum Stars to a third-place finish in the Absa Premiership last season and will be highly motivated to build on that success. Dikwena won nine from their 15 games at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, losing four times. They’ll be looking to emulate their 2013 MTN8 success and standing in their way is Chippa United. The Chilli Boys finished sixth on the log last season, their best finish in the Absa Premiership. It was a fantastic campaign for Dan Malesela’s side, but they could have done better away from home. Chippa lost eight from their 15 travels, winning just four times.
Platinum Stars are undefeated in their last four home clashes against Chippa, winning twice – their last meeting a hard-fought 3-2 victory. However, Dan Malesela’s side will certainly fancy their chances after thrashing Dikwena 4-1 at Wolfson Stadium, their recent meeting in the league. Lerato Manzini scored a hat-trick in that game and he’ll be Platinum Stars’ biggest threat. A tight affair is expected, but Platinum Stars are tipped to make home advantage count.
Bidvest Wits 18/10 | Draw 19/10 | Orlando Pirates 15/10
Gavin Hunt has done wonders since he took charge of Bidvest Wits in 2013, leading his side to consecutive third-place positions (2013/14 & 2014/15) and finishing runners-up last season. The Clever Boys are strong contenders to win the MTN8 this season. Wits won eight from their 15 home games last season, losing three times. The loss of Sibusiso Vilakazi is massive, but Hunt still has a plethora of weapons in his attack with the likes of James Keene, Daine Klate, Phakamani Mahlambi and Eleazar Rodgers.
Wits will face a stiff test against Orlando Pirates on Saturday, but their recent record against the Buccaneers will give them great confidence. Hunt’s side have won their last three meetings against Pirates, scoring four goals without conceding. The Bucs will be hoping to end their hoodoo against Wits as well as their trophy drought. They endured a dismal 2014/15 season, finishing seventh in the Absa Premiership under Tinkler. Muhsin Ertugral has injected a new enthusiasm for Pirates fans as he aims to combine entertaining football with a winning formula. The Bucs will benefit from having their captain Oupa Manyisa fit, along with fresh blood in new arrivals Riyaad Norodien, Abbubaker Mobara and Thabiso Kutumela. I’m predicting a draw in 90 minutes.
Sunday 28 August
Mamelodi Sundowns 9/10 | Draw 22/10 | SuperSport United 28/10
Mamelodi Sundowns are yet to win the top eight competition under its current sponsorship by MTN. Last year, they were knocked out by Bloemfontein Celtic, losing 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after drawing 1-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium. The Brazilians won the Absa Premiership last season, beating nearest rivals Bidvest Wits by 14 points. They’ll be looking to build on that success by adding the MTN8 to their trophy cabinet. They’re also in the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League which shows just how good this side is. Pitso Mosimane’s men will be confident of advancing to the semi-finals of the MTN8, especially as they boast an excellent record against SuperSport United. They’re unbeaten against Matsatsantsa in their last eight meetings with six wins, including five on the trot. Mosimane will be pleased to have Keagan Dolly back in the side after representing South Africa in the Olympics.
Stuart Baxter will need a plan to stop CBD (Castro, Billiat and Dolly). SuperSport are in fact lucky to be in this year’s competition as they entered the final week of the 2015/16 season in 9th position and needed Golden Arrows to slip up on the final day. Baxter certainly has top players in their ranks and new signings such as Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Keegan Ritchie, Thabo Mnyamane and Cole Alexander will add to that quality. This will be exciting to watch but Sundowns are tipped to edge the win.
MTN8 Cup Previous Winners
2008 Kaizer Chiefs
2009 Golden Arrows
2010 Orlando Pirates
2011 Orlando Pirates
2012 Moroka Swallows
2013 Platinum Stars
2014 Kaizer Chiefs
2015 Ajax Cape Town
Written by Doctor’s Orders @Hollywoodbets