Our football writer previews the MTN8 semifinals first leg clashes which kick off on Saturday 25 August 2018.
It doesn’t get better than this! We are now down to the last four of this year’s MTN8 and you have to be careful in terms of how you place your bets as teams tend to employ cagey tactics in two-legged encounters. Last year’s runners-up, Cape Town City, entertain Mamelodi Sundowns while the defending champions, SuperSport United, host Kaizer Chiefs.
Benni McCarthy will be looking to win his first piece of silverware with the club in his second season while Pitso Mosimane’s men are hoping to continue where they left off last campaign as they closed it off by lifting the league title. Elsewhere, Kaizer Chiefs are seeking to win their first major cup since the middle of 2015. Will they be able to topple Matsatsantsa? Let’s find out!
Saturday 25 August
Cape Town City 26/10
Mamelodi Sundowns 23/20
The Citizens were able to do just about enough to overcome Maritzburg United in the quarter-finals, scoring a solitary goal which sealed the victory in KwaZulu-Natal. Their league form leaves a lot to be desired though as they’ve been too inconsistent. They have played three matches so far, winning one, drawing one and losing one.
City’s midfield is one of the best on paper with the trio of Roland Putsche, Thabo Nodada and Teko Modise pulling the strings behind the forwards. It’s upfront where I think they have to improve as both Matthew Rusike and Siphelele Mthembu haven’t been prolific in front of goal. Ayanda Patosi must also improve and play to his full potential.
The new goalkeeper, Peter Leeuwenburgh who arrived at the start of the season from Ajax Amsterdam has been a revelation as his shot-stopping abilities have spared the team some blushes. The last time these sides met in a cup competition, it was Masandawana who emerged victorious in last season’s Nedbank Cup quarterfinals.
Sundowns have the best squad on paper as the phrase “second string team” doesn’t exist in their lexicon. However, they face a tight fixture schedule as they face Highlands Park three days before this particular fixture and they face Horoya in a must-win CAF Champions League encounter three days after it.
It’s too early to talk about fatigue and an experienced team like Sundowns knows how to manage the workload, but that tampers with combinations. I also foresee them prioritising the Horoya match as anything less than a victory will see them crash out of the continent’s bets club competition. I think this match will end with a share of the spoils.
Sunday 26 August
SuperSport United 47/20
Kaizer Chiefs 12/10
SuperSport displayed a great deal of fighting spirit in the quarter-finals, managing to hold a fantastic Orlando Pirates side to a 2-2 draw and defeating them on penalties. Ronwen Williams is arguably the league’s best penalty saver and the teams can be so defensive in cup competitions, knowing they can rely on his capabilities.
Matsatsantsa have won at least one trophy in each of the last three seasons and they will be hoping to continue the trend. Last week, they handed high-flying Bidvest Wits their first league defeat of the 2018/19 campaign. They’re one of the slowest teams due to aging players but their experience is able to see them through when they need to grind out results.
Kaizer Chiefs had a disappointing outing last Friday night at Maritzburg United as they failed to collect maximum points despite the hosts being reduced playing with 10 men for 77 minutes after Siphesihle Ndlovu was sent off. They remain winless in the league after four matches as they’ve drawn three and lost one. Their only victory of the season came in the MT8 quarter-finals when they beat Free State Stars 3-0.
The team has done well in terms of creating chances but they haven’t been clinical in front of goals. Losing Joseph Malongoane due to a serious injury also seems to have dealt them a terrible blow as most of Giovanni Solinas’ attacks were channelled through him. This match is likely to end in a draw.