Telkom Knockout: Semi-Finals Preview



The two Telkom Knockout final spots are up for contention this weekend as Mamelodi Sundowns visit Golden Arrows at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium and Kaizer Chiefs host Maritzburg United at Mbombela Stadium. 

With the final date and venue having already been announced, most neutrals are yearning for a repeat of the 2015 final between Chiefs and Sundowns, which the latter won 3-1 at the very same Moses Mabhida Stadium. On the other hand, KZN football fans would welcome having at least one of their teams in the decider. 

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Saturday 23 November 

Golden Arrows 28/10 
Draw 22/10 
Mamelodi Sundowns 9/10 
(15:00)

These sides met two weeks ago in the league and it’s Abafana Besithende who triumphed 3-2 on a rainy afternoon. Knox Mutizwa, who is among the league’s top scorers with seven goals so far this season, netted a brace in that encounter and he participated in his native Zimbabwe’s goalless draw against Botswana last Friday. 

To reach this stage of the competition, Steve Komphela’s charges scraped through Polokwane City in the round of 16 all thanks to an extra-time own goal from Nicholas Motloung. They managed to secure a 1-0 victory over SuperSport United as well in the quarter-finals in a positive result aided by Aubrey Modiba missing a 90th minute penalty for the losers. 

Having lost the league game two weeks ago, Sundowns know that Arrows are not to be underestimated. Coach Pitso Mosimane will be hoping to have Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane back from their respective injuries which has seen the Brazilians lack creativity in the final third. This game should be used as a morale booster as they are winless in regulation time in the last for matches. They needed a penalty shootout to knock Chippa United out in the quarter-finals. 

Thapelo Morena started at right-back for Bafana Bafana this past weekend and he showed signs of sharpness and remains to be seen where Mosimane will utilize the versatile player. This will be a tough game but Sundowns can’t afford to be winless in five consecutive games and I expect them to come out all guns blazing. Put your money on the visitors to book a spot in the final in regulation time.

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Sunday 24 November 

Kaizer Chiefs 5/10 
Draw 5/2 
Maritzburg United 11/2 
(15:00)

Kaizer Chiefs have started the season like a house on fire as they currently hold a healthy 10-point lead at the summit of the PSL standings. Amakhosi have won nine of their 13 competitive games across all competitions in regulation time, losing one and drawing three which is a very good return for the high-flyers. 

They’re oozing confidence after finally beating their hoodoo team in recent years Orlando Pirates the last time out. The only concern should be the unavailability of Willard Katsande, Eric Mathoho and Daniel Akpeyi, who are suspended. However, we saw how good the fringe players are when Ernst Middendorp made eight changes in the league game against Chippa United and they managed to secure a 2-0 victory. 

Mbombela Stadium, which is Chiefs’ alternative home ground, is an unfamiliar venue for the visitors and they might find it very hard to cope against the most popular team in the country. The Team of Choice have tried to counter that by arranging transport and ticket specials for fans who would like to travel. 

After starting the season slowly, Eric Tinkler’s men have managed to turn their fortunes around and they head into this encounter off the back of a seven-match unbeaten run. Both sides are in good form and I expect this to be a tightly-contested encounter, but high-flying Chiefs should have enough to overcome their opponents in regulation time and set up a mouth-watering final against Sundowns. 

DOUBLE @ 5/2
Sundowns Win 13/10
Chiefs Win 13/20

Written by Benedict Ngwenya

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