Telkom Knockout Preview

With the first round draw seeded so that the top eight sides from last year’s league campaign were separated, there was never any chance of a clash between the leading teams in the top-flight. The closest we have come to that is BidVest Wits’ hosting of Moroka Swallows.

Wits 8/10 draw 22/10 Moroka Swallows 7/2
BidVest Wits and Moroka Swallows will open the competition on Friday night. Gavin Hunt's Wits were humiliated over two legs by Orlando Pirates in the MTN8 semi-final. However, Wits have showed their steel in the league and especially at home where they have won three matches and drawn one, scoring seven goals and conceding just one. Swallows suffered their third straight league defeat at the hands of Free State Stars last weekend, going down 3-2. Wits have dominated recent encounters between the sides, going unbeaten in the last six, winning five times. Wits should knock the visitors out comfortably. 

SuperSport 15/20 draw 23/10 Free State Stars 7/2
New SuperSport United coach Gordon Igesund has stated he is confident he can win silverware with the club given the quality of players at his disposal. SuperSport were drawn to host Free State Stars in the first round. Igesund – who registered a 3–1 win over Platinum Stars and a 3-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic in his first two Absa Premiership matches in charge of the club – is eager to lead the Pretoria-based outfit to their first trophy in two years. “I am happy that we will be playing the game [against Stars] at home,” Igesund said. “This will be important because all the clubs in the league are now very competitive. Playing at home will therefore give us the freedom to plan properly. We will be playing under conditions that we are used to and this is always an advantage in football,” added the coach. “The mentality that we are developing among the players is that we must win every single game that we play. We must play for victory, whether it is in the league or in cup matches. I have the quality of players capable of winning silverware for this club so we must aim high.” Free State Stars lie sixth in the PSL but their away form needs improving. Ea Lla Koto ahve lost their last two away games to University of Pretoria and Ajax. Back SuperSport to continue their winning start under Igesund. 

Platinum Stars 12/10 draw 22/10 Chippa 21/10
Platinum Stars lifted both the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout titles last season in an amazing few months for Dikwena, however they fell at the second hurdle in their attempts to defend the first one this season. Dikwena are under pressure to deliver silverware in this campaign. They are drawn against newly promoted Chippa United who are coming off a superb win over Orlando Pirates. Platinum Stars have just two wins in their last nine games in all competitions. Chippa are unbeaten against Platinum Stars in their three previous meetings, winning twice and drawing once. They met last month in the league with Chippa winning 2-0. Chippa are tipped to cause another upset here and look a valuable bet to do so at 21/10. 

Mamelodi Sundowns 9/20 draw 28/10 Uni. Of Pretoria 6/1
Mamelodi Sundowns and University of Pretoria meet in a Tshwane derby on Saturday. The league champions will be eager to make up for their first round defeat in the MTN8 to Platinum Stars. After an inconsistent start to the season the Brazilians have won their last three league encounters without conceding a goal. AmaTuks are winless in their last four matches, with two losses and stand little chance against their glamorous neighbours. Sundowns are unbeaten against Tuks, winning thrice and drawing twice. Sundowns should continue their winning form here. 

Kaizer Chiefs 9/20 draw 28/10 Maritzburg United 6/1
Kaizer Chiefs recorded their seventh consecutive victory in the league as they beat Maritzburg United 1-0 at FNB Stadium. Mandla Masango scored his fourth PSL goal of the season, and his sixth in all competitions, to guide the Soweto outfit to their 11th consecutive win in all competitions. The win takes Chiefs seven points clear of their nearest rivals, Ajax Cape Town. AmaKhosi’s perfect record this campaign is tipped to come to an end. Chiefs have only beaten Maritzburg three times in their last nine meetings, with five of those matches ending in draws. Steve Komphela won’t go down again and Maritzburg are tipped to hold Chiefs to a draw. 

AmaZulu 17/10 draw 2/1 Bloem Celtic 16/10
Usuthu are lying at the bottom of the log with just three points from their opening seven matches and are the only team in the league without a win. They have already hosted Celtic this season, losing 2-0. Celtic also beat AmaZulu 2-0 in a preseason match and following Usuthu’s 2-0 loss to Wits at the weekend, there’s are little signs of hope. Celtic are slight favourites and rightly so, back the away win. 

Orlando Pirates 7/20 draw 31/10 Polokwane City 8/1
For Orlando Pirates, the Telkom Knockout is a chance to right the wrongs after losing out to bitter rivals Chiefs in the MTN8 final. If Pirates are to reach the final again it will be their sixth successive final. Polokwane have won just one match from seven in the league, losing five times. Pirates have already beaten Polokwane this season, thrashing g them 3-0 at their home grounds. The home win is a sure bet. 

Ajax 1/1 draw 22/10 Black Aces 5/2
Ajax and Black Aces will meet for a second time after Aces hosted Ajax in the league last weekend. A second half goal from Dennis Masina handed Aces a 1-0 win over Ajax Cape Town at Mbombela Stadium. After constant pressure Aces found the back of the net in the 65th minute as they registered only their second league win of the season, and in doing so handed the Urban Warriors their first loss of the season. Aces were the better side from the onset as they adjusted to the searing heat and outrun a lacklustre Ajax side. The Cape club offered very little in attack and never really threatened the Aces goal. Home advantage has been a crucial factor for Ajax this season as they have won all three league fixtures at the Cape Town Stadium. Back the Urban Warriors to get to the quarter-finals.

Written by Wayde Dorkin
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Soccer Pro’s Picks
Wits WIN 8/10

SuperSport WIN 15/20
Chippa WIN 21/10
Sundowns WIN 9/20
Chiefs DRAW 28/10
Celtic WIN 16/10
Pirates WIN 7/20
Ajax WIN 1/1