With the Absa Premiership’s opening fixtures now out of the way, the show moves to the teams that finished in the top eight last season.
This earned them a shot at the R8-million on offer should they win the MTN8 final. There are teams that have a lot to lose, especially Kaizer Chiefs, following their abysmal start to their league campaign.
Cape Town City v Kaizer Chiefs, Cape Town Stadium:
This is a tournament Chiefs excel in, but being excellent is something they have failed to be under Steve Komphela’s reign. Being bridesmaids twice last season was a rude shock to Chiefs’ system but the unknown quantity that is Cape Town City comes with the known factor that is Eric Tinkler. Having lost to Wits on Tuesday, Komphela’s charges are under a type of pressure only they will know.
Platinum Stars v Chippa United, Royal Bafokeng Stadium:
Fresh off impressive wins in their respective league fixtures against Supersport United and Free State Stars, this clash could be the unheralded game of the weekend. Having done well to get as far as they have, throwing caution to the wind could be the best option for these sides in Rustenburg tomorrow.
Bidvest Wits v Orlando Pirates, Bidvest Stadium:
It is a pity that a mouth-watering clash like this comes so early in the season, but it could give an early indication of how good these teams are. Pirates needed a Tendai Ndoro hattrick to see off a determined Lamontville Golden Arrows challenge on Wednesday night, while Wits tactically outpointed a clueless Chiefs outfit on Tuesday evening.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt salivated at the prospect of facing the big teams early in the season, especially when his youngsters impressed against Chiefs.
Pirates had defensive questions that were not answered against Arrows as their newly assembled back four struggled to cope with Kudakwashe Mahachi’s pace. There will be skill and pace aplenty but a moment of magic will decide this clash.
Mamelodi Sundowns v SuperSport United, Lofus Versfeld:
The lingering question will be Sundowns’ mental readiness for this game and this tournament in particular. In their 3-1 CAF Champions League loss to Nigerian side Enyimba on Tuesday evening, they looked like a team whose mind was on the semifinal.
It’s the only trophy Sundowns have not annexed in the past three seasons. Supersport on the other hand, with serial Cup-winning coach Stuart Baxter, will want to extend the good form they showed in the Nedbank Cup.