Our football writer previews the Telkom Knockout semifinal clash between Baroka and Bidvest Wits which takes place on Sunday 25 November 2018.
Gavin Hunt’s Bidvest Wits is one of the teams that started the season off with a bang! Having occupied the top spot for some time, they’re now placed second with two games in hand and three points off the pace. By a way of contrast, Baroka are 12th on the log with six points separating them and bottom-placed AmaZulu.
Wits are the defending champions after lifting the trophy last year at Princess Magogo Stadium last year. On the other hand, Baroka are looking to claim their first piece of silverware in top-flight football. Will the underdogs upset the holders? Here’s our full preview.
Telkom Knockout Cup
Baroka vs Bidvest Wits
Sunday 25 November
Peter Mokaba Stadium
Bidvest Wits 15/20
In terms of this match and outright betting, Baroka are the least likely to win the tournament as they are priced up at 8/1 to win the trophy and 15/4 to beat Wits in this encounter. The underdog tag could enable them to play with less pressure and prove a serious banana skin to whoever underestimates them.
Bakgakga have lost all four of their meetings against the Clever Boys in history but they head into this one having eliminated Mamelodi Sundowns, which could be a big morale booster. Head coach, Wedson Nyirenda, was on compassionate leave for that match and assistant coach, Matsemela Thoka, who was in charge for the day, will be remembered for making controversial remarks after ousting one of the tournament’s favourites.
“I want to thank the management for giving me this opportunity to be in charge in the absence of the coach, especially the chairman. He can see something in me. I don’t want to hurry things I know my chance will come to take over this team permanently. But for now, I’m happy that they gave me this opportunity,” he said.
They followed that win up by beating Golden Arrows 2-1 in the league which shows that they can not be underestimated. Club chairman Khurishi Mphahlele has made it very clear that they see this as a golden opportunity to become the first club in Limpopo to win a knockout competition in the PSL. This team is certainly not going to lie down to die.
The defending champions have a 100% record against this team which includes a 5-0 annihilation during coach Kgoloko Thobejane’s reign. In fact, Baroka have never scored against Wits in history with the Students putting nine past them in four games. Having played two games less, the former PSL champions are second on the log and they trail top-placed Orlando Pirates by three points.
Wits’ superb start to the season is clearly evident in the Bafana Bafana team with players like captain, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Sifiso Hlanti enjoying regular game time. Speaking of the Wits defence, it shall be interesting to see how they deal with the speedy Talent Chawaphiwa who has been a revelation this season. I’m also expecting Hlatshwayo to play in his natural centre-back position with Robyn Johannes being unavailable for selection after getting sent off in the 2-1 league defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic. The experienced Vuyo Mere should fill in the right-back spot.
The attacking trio of Gift Motupa, Deon Hotto and Simon Murray looks menacing and has already scored a couple of vital goals this season. Baroka defence will definitely have their work cut out for them on the day. Another morale-boosting factor for them is the fact that they claimed R1.5-million after winning the Q1 innovation.
Prediction: Bidvest Wits Win (15/20)
I think Baroka will make a game of it but the quality in the Wits side will be too strong for them and the Clever Boys should be able to book a spot in the final. I don’t see the current Baroka squad managing to break the hoodoo against Gavin Hunt’s men. Put your money on a Wits win.