The AmaKhosi host the first of the MTN8 second leg semi-finals on Saturday, after a 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic two weeks prior. Being essentially a Top 8 knockout competition means you’re always playing in-form, top tier sides, so even for the likes of Chiefs, every fixture is a test. This decider will determine who meets either Wits of Ajax in the final, with a whopping R8 million at stake. Incentive enough for any side to win.
To Win (90mins)
Kaizer Chiefs 9/20
Bloemfontein Celtic 11/2
Neither side have got off to that flamboyant a start this season, specifically in the PSL, and of the two teams Chiefs are always the more liable to be put under pressure from fans and the media. With Steve Komphela being the latest change at the club, naturally his immediate successes become the forefront of attention, and whilst still being unbeaten in the league, recent draws to Polokwane City and Chippa United put him under an unnecessary microscope. It comes with the pressures of managing the most successful club in South African football, as well as defending champions of the tournament, so we’ll see in the near future whether he sinks or swims. From a player’s perspective they’ve retained pretty much all of the key parts that have brought them their recent successes, and going into this leg with no deficit to make up leaves the fate of the Amakhosi in the MTN8 entirely in their hands. Home ground advantage, and if their weather holds up, we could see a bumper crowd in to watch the beloved Amakhosi this payday weekend.
Whilst Chiefs’ fate always seems written in the stars, if there’s one side who knows how to take a challenge like this in their stride it’s Celtic. The cheerful fans that pack out the Free State Stadium every week that they play witnessed another solid home performance from Phunya Sele Sele, and if it weren’t for Bernard Parker’s second half equaliser for Chiefs, they could easily come into this second leg with a well deserved one-goal advantage. The key for them on Saturday will be getting on the score sheet. A goalless draw won’t help them and a defensive strategy will only give Chiefs more room to push ball, and create enough chances that will inevitably result in some reward for the home side. Clinton Larsson has never been my favourite coach, but he seems to have created a good vibe that’s been lacking at the club in recent seasons. This showed in midweek, with an impressive 1-0 league win of Orlando Pirates. They’re going to need to repeat this feat however, in an arena far less friendly.
VERDICT: Kaizer Chiefs 9/20
I’ve tried to find any possible way for Celtic to get a look in here, but from a punting perspective the stats don’t allow it. Celtic haven’t beaten Chiefs in any fixture since 2009, which was at home. On the road they haven’t won in any way, shape or form for the last ten years, so coming up trumps and progressing to the final on Saturday seems unlikely for the lads from Bloemfontein. Chiefs holds most of the cards in this one, with their solitary away goal being their trump. Unless Celtic can score twice in Jozi, Chiefs seem to have the easier road. The bookies have them priced up at 9/20 for the win, but they’ll be far cheaper if you want to back them to progress. I’m expecting a clinical performance from the Amakhosi and have no issue in taking the price with what should be a home win on Saturday.