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Maritzburg United vs Mamelodi Sundowns Preview

The Telkom Knockout prepares to lavish upon us another truly special dish in the shape of a mouth-watering decider as Maritzburg United battle it out with Mamelodi Sundowns for the coveted trophy.

The Team of Choice who are still seeking their first piece of silverware in history defied all odds when they eliminated Kaizer Chiefs, courtesy of a Judas Moseamedi brace. On the other hand, the last time the Brazilians were involved in a Telkom Knockout final it was 2015 at the very same Moses Mabhida Stadium and they recorded a comfortable 3-1 victory! Could history repeat itself? Let’s find out.

Telkom Knockout Final
Maritzburg United vs Mamelodi Sundowns
Saturday 14 December
Moses Mabhida Stadium

To Win Match (90 Mins)
Maritzburg United 28/10
Draw 22/10
Sundowns 9/10

To Lift Cup
Maritzburg United 33/20
Mamelodi Sundowns 9/20

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Maritzburg United

Eric Tinkler’s men head into this game off a back of a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Polokwane City in the league and they should also be emboldened by the fact that they managed to eliminate high-flying Kaizer Chiefs from this competition. Kwanda Mngonyama, who is one yellow card away from suspension, sat out the game against Polokwane City to make sure he is not suspended for this final.

The Team of Choice will also welcome back Richard Ofori who didn’t feature the last time out due to accumulation of yellow cards. On the downside though, Siyanda Xulu and Phumlani Ntshangase are not expected to recover in the nick of time for the final which will force Tinkler to stick with Miguel Timm and Keagan Buchanan in the central midfield positions. Daylon Claasen is another option if the coach opts for a more offensive approach.

Everyone has been raving about Rushine De Reuck’s heroics at the heart of Maritzburg United’s defence and a game of this magnitude presents a golden platform for him to showcase his big match temperament. It will be interesting to see how he combines with the likes of Nazeer Allie, Pogiso Sanoka, Mngonyama and Yusuf Jappie to keep the Sundowns attackers at bay.

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Mamelodi Sundowns

The games keep coming thick and fast for the Brazilians who had to travel to Morocco to face Wydad Casablanca this past weekend and they must take on Stellenbosch in midweek ahead of this final which will see them have a shorter recovery period than their opponents. We’re watching with keen interest whether the game in midweek won’t result in injuries or suspensions. Sundowns must also try and manage the workload as they have five more games to wrap up the year after the final.

The fixture congestion cloud has a silver lining though as that means suspended Gaston Sirino will be available for the final after sitting out the Stellies clash. Sundowns have really struggled to unlock defences without the Uruguayan midfielder and Themba Zwane who recently returned from injury and the two attacking midfielders have been key players in the final third over the last few years. Coach Pitso Mosimane deliberately played them together in the CAF Champions League game against Wydad to maintain consistency.

I expect Sundowns to be the most offensive side with the home team electing to go the counter-attacking route where Moseamedi’s pace and movement will come in handy. The likes of Jose Ali Meza and Sirino will be key for Sundowns when it comes to penetrating the Maritzburg defence who have conceded one goal in the last four games.

Prediction: Mamelodi Sundowns (9/10)

Maritzburg United will make a game of it but Sundowns are more experienced in dealing with high-profile matches. I foresee a tightly-contested encounter but over the years I’ve seen Mosimane’s men exercising patience and playing calmly in matches of this magnitude and I think they should have enough firepower in their arsenal to overcome Tinkler’s charges.

Written by Benedict Ngwenya