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Telkom Knockout: Quarter-finals Preview

Telkom Knockout: Quarter-finals Preview

The Soweto Derby happening at Durban’s iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium headlines this weekend’s Telkom Knockout action. Elsewhere, bottom-placed Chippa United host Mamelodi Sundowns who are eager to return to winning ways after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Kaizer Chiefs in the league while SuperSport United are aiming to maintain their “Cup Kings” tag as they host Golden Arrows. Can Highlands Park overcome Maritzburg United on a Friday night at Harry Gwala Stadium? Let’s dissect these enticing clashes.

Friday 1 November

Maritzburg United 28/10 
Draw 2/1 
Highlands Park 16/10 

After a disappointing start to the season, Maritzburg United have suddenly turned their fortunes around, winning three league games in a row which has seen them shoot up to eighth place on the log. To reach this stage of the competition, they beat Bidvest Wits 3-1 on penalties after the match finished in a 1-1 stalemate. Highlands Park have done very well this season having won four of their last league games, at the time of writing, and reached the MTN8 final where they narrowly lost to SuperSport United.

They needed a penalty shootout in this competition to eliminate Black Leopards in the Round of 16. In terms of playing personnel, Owen Da Gama’s charges look sharp with the likes of the league’s leading goalscorer, Peter Shalulile and Tendai Ndoro banging in goals for fun. Veteran midfielder, Reneilwe Letsholonyane looks like his old self, orchestrating moves in the middle of the park and the side is going to be competitive this season. Both teams are doing well and I foresee them cancelling each other out in regulation time.

Saturday 2 November

Kaizer Chiefs 13/10 
Draw 2/1 
Orlando Pirates 2/1 

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SuperSport United 11/10 
Draw 2/1 
Golden Arrows 24/10 

SuperSport United are known for their dominance in cup competitions in recent season and with experienced players who have tasted glory several times knowing that they could be three games away from another trophy glory they will give it their all. The Absa Premiership game in midweek against Bloemfontein Celtic could affect them in terms of suspensions and injuries but that remains to be seen. I like how Kaitano Tembo hasn’t tinkered too much with the starting line-up and that has helped a great deal in terms of maintaining combinations and consistency.

Arrows finally snapped their five-match winless run in the league when they beat Polokwane City 2-1. Steve Komphela’s men had to dig deep to eliminate the very same team from this competition when an extra-time own goal helped them record a narrow 1-0 win. My money is on the hosts.

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Sunday 3 November 

Chippa United 9/2 
Draw 24/10 
Mamelodi Sundowns 6/10 

Coach Norman Mapeza’s first game in charge of Chippa United was a Telkom Knockout Last 16 clash which ended in a 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic. He went on to lose 2-0 to Highlands Park in the league and it remains to be seen how the trigger-happy Chippa Mpengesi would react if he loses this match. The players are still adapting to the new coach’s tactics and I foresee them struggling against arguably the best side in the league on paper.

Mamelodi Sundowns are known for fielding weakened sides in domestic cup competitions but coach Pitso Mosimane knows that a morale-boosting victory is essential after suffering a setback in the league against Kaizer Chiefs. Themba Zwane might be back after being rested this past weekend and we know that his combination with Gaston Sirino is probably one of the most menacing on the continent. They seem to be gelling with Jose Ali Meza and the newly-acquired Mauricio Affonso who shows signs of sharpness when it comes to being clinical in front of goal. I don’t see Sundowns failing to win this game.

TREBLE @ 9/1
Maritzburg vs Highlands Draw 2/1
SuperSport Win 11/10
Sundowns Win 6/10

Written by Benedict Ngwenya

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