Our football analyst previews the Telkom Knockout semifinal clash between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates which takes place on Saturday 24 November 2018.
Exactly 28 days after these two sides locked horns in the league, they will once again reignite their rivalry, this time with a place in the Telkom Knockout final at stake. For Kaizer Chiefs, it’s about redemption, after suffering two back-to-back defeats against their crosstown rivals, who last lifted a trophy in 2014.
From a Pirates perspective, it’s about crowning their highly-eulogised brand of football with some silverware and a victory against their bitter rivals will take them a step closer to that. With general access tickets to the match getting sold out within two hours of being available, this will surely be a showpiece occasion witnessed by a vociferous crowd. Let’s take a closer look at how the game is likely to pan out.
Telkom Knockout Cup
Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates
Saturday 24 November
Moses Mabhida Stadium
Kaizer Chiefs 17/10
Orlando Pirates 18/10
Kaizer Chiefs have endured an indifferent couple of weeks and they will be hoping that the international break takes the sting out of their opponents who are becoming harder to beat. In the league, Amakhosi have won one of their last five matches, suffering two defeats and drawing the other two. In the Telkom Knockout, they fought back from 1-0 down to force a penalty shootout which they won against Black Leopards. They then beat SuperSport United 1-0 in the subsequent quarter-final.
The team’s regular starters like Willard Katsande, Khama Billiat, Itumeleng Khune and Godfrey Walusimbi represented their respective nations in the recent FIFA international break during Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Good news for Amakhosi is that none of them sustained injuries. They will also be fit for the upcoming encounter as they were involved in competitive action.
Giovanni Solinas knows very well that the level of expectation at this club is very high and he’s under a great deal of pressure amid rumours that Muhsin Ertugral, who is now a free agent, might be his replacement if he fails to deliver. The main cause for concern is his ever-changing backline and it remains to be seen who starts this time around.
Chiefs have sweet Soweto derby memories at Moses Mabhida as they won 1-0 in the 2014 MTN8 final the last time they met on the same venue, incidentally the venue where Pirates last lifted a trophy in the same year, beating Bidvest Wits 3-1 in the Nedbank Cup final.
The mighty Buccaneers are unbeaten against their semi-final opponents in the last 10 competitive games in regulation time. Their only defeat during that period came during the penalty shootout of this tournament in 2015 at this stage of the competition. In terms of their league form, Milutin Sredojevic’s men are unbeaten in the last nine games, having picked up five wins and four draws. Perhaps the FIFA international break came at a wrong time for them as it may tamper with their rhythm.
There has also been a lot of talk about the team playing the most attractive football in the league but having no trophies to show for it. Ezikamagebhula head into this one off the back of a goalless draw against Mamelodi Sundowns, which was a very cagey affair.
Ezimnyama Ngenkani top the PSL standings and their superb run of form has seen their star players like Vincent Pule, Thembinkosi Lorch, Innocent Maela, Marshall Munetsi, Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga getting national team call-ups in the past week. Pirates’ biggest threat in this game would be complacency against a team they’ve outclassed in recent meetings.
Sredojevic has reached the 50-game milestone since taking over the coaching reigns at the Mayfair-based outfit and he has won 25 of those matches, losing 10 and drawing 15. If they can manage to transform those draws into wins, they’d be unplayable. Both teams should be grateful that their CAF opponents next week aren’t the strongest of teams and they won’t distract their plans for the Soweto derby.
Verdict: Lorch to Score Anytime & Orlando Pirates Win (3/1)
Recent head to head statistics and current form point towards Orlando Pirates and I can’t see another result except a win for coach Micho’s team. A smaller Moses Mabhida Stadium pitch might be a bit of a disadvantage to their expansive game but they should be too strong for recently embattled Chiefs. Why not back Thembinkosi Lorch to Score Anytime and Pirates to Win!