Category : Football | Posted on 2020-10-16 By : Rob Delport Image : Google
The 2020/2021 South African football season is upon us and this weekend we kick off the action with the MTN8 quarter-finals.
Yes, we are deep in October, but considering that just over two months ago we hadn’t completed the previous season, it’s quite an achievement on the part of the PSL that we have reached this stage.
But there have been victims along the way. Two notable absentees from this upcoming season are of course Bidvest Wits and Highlands Park. Having sold their franchises, their places will be taken by Premiership debutants Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila and TS Galaxy. Polokwane City will also no longer be in the top flight after their relegation, and its a warm welcome for Swallows FC, who won the Glad Africa Championship.
Galaxy and Swallows will have to wait until next week however for their debut games, but TTM will be in action this weekend, when they face SuperSport in the opening game of the MTN8.
So what can we expect this weekend? Let’s take a closer look at the games…
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila versus SuperSport United
TTM has taken Wits’ place in the competition, and will face defending champions SuperSport in Saturday’s first game. Had I written this a week ago, I would’ve probably predicted a huge win for Kaitano Tembo’s, such was the confusion around who would be playing, and who would be coaching TTM. However on Thursday the club announced a squad of players that will be lead by Joel Masutha. There is actually quite a bit of talent in the squad, but I still fancy SuperSport will win this one. First of all, I have no idea if all the listed players have arrived at TTM yet. I am also not sure how much they’ve trained or played together. More importantly, SuperSport were one of the best teams in the bio-bubble, and I think they may be ready to build on that momentum.
Orlando Pirates versus Cape Town City
Over the past few years, Pirates and City have had some fierce battles, so this one should be interesting. But history suggests it may just favour City, as the Buccaneers have failed to beat the Citizens in the last three years. The last time they won was in September 2017, and it is actually the only victory they have against the Cape Town team, who have won 3 of their 9 encounters.
City will look to build on their good form from during the bio-bubble. They were the best team in the last quarter, and while they have lost their main goalscorer, Kermit Erasmus, I am sure Jan Olde-Riekerink will be hoping they can keep that momentum going. But Pirates, who have also had a few changes in personnel, have probably targeted this competition as their first opportunity for silverware. With no Telkom Knockout this season, opportunities for trophies are less, and after a long barren spell, this might be a big chance for Josef Zinnbauer and his team.
Kaizer Chiefs versus Maritzburg United
My pick of the weekend is this clash between Chiefs and Maritzburg, as I am really fascinated to see what the Amakhosi look like under Gavin Hunt. With Chiefs currently unable to sign players, due to the FIFA ban over the Dax debacle, Hunt will for the most part be using the same players that Ernst Middendorp had last season. Hunt is one of the best coaches South Africa has produced, and over the years has shown that he can adapt to different circumstances. And let's not forget this is actually a very talented Chiefs squad who, had there not been the break in football, would probably have won the league. While Hunt would definitely like to make a few signings, he has achieved great things in the past, with squads a lot weaker than this current Chiefs one.
Hunt will have his hands full though against Eric Tinkler’s Maritzburg side. They showed a real competitive edge last season and will be looking to take advantage of any vulnerabilities in the Chiefs side. While I do favour Chiefs to win this one, I’m not confident enough that I would put my own money on it. But that is why it is my pick of the games.
Mamelodi Sundowns versus Bloemfontein Celtic
The final game of the last 8 sees a repeat of last season’s Nedbank Cup final, as Sundowns take on Celtic, where Sundowns came out victorious. While we’ve seen the departure of Pitso Mosimane at the champions, I am not expecting to see too much difference, just yet. Yes, they've signed a dozen or so players, and Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena are now in charge (assisted by Steve Komphela), but I think we will probably see a Sundowns team that resembles the side that won three trophies last season. Celtic will be out for a little revenge after losing the final (and the whole Tebogo Langerman controversy) but I think Masandawana will have enough about them to get through this tie.
By Sunday evening we will know who our four semi-finalists are, interact us with on social media - @FrunSports - and let us know if you think there will be any surprises.