SuperSport, Sundowns, Polokwane, Highlands eye R8 million
THE MTN8 is the shortest of the PSL knockout competitions but the eight-team event is never short of fireworks as teams fight it out for quick cash.
It doesn’t get much better than SuperSport United versus Mamelodi Sundowns, the capital city rivals pitted against each other in the first leg of the semi-finals at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday.
But before that, Highlands Park face Polokwane City at Limpopo’s Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.
Matsatsantsa A Pitori will be eyeing a third straight final having won the title two seasons ago and finished as runners-up last season.
The difference this time is that the test is sterner as Sundowns have had the better of their cross-town rivals in recent times.
It was heartbreak for SuperSport last season as they failed to defend their crown, succumbing to Cape Town City on penalties in Durban.
Matsatsantsa will host the first leg with the second scheduled for September 18 at the same venue.
SuperSport’s Kaitano Tembo is still searching for that elusive silverware as head coach. The Zimbabwean is now in his second season as coach. Last season he came close to winning his maiden trophy but the Citizens denied him.
Tembo will be hoping it’s second time lucky but he has to dump Sundowns out of the competition to proceed to the final.
His Sundowns counterpart Pitso Mosimane has enjoyed a trophy-laden spell but the one that has eluded him in his time with the Brazilians is the MTN8. In 2016, he was denied by Bidvest Wits at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Ironically, the last time Mosimane won the eight-team tournament was during his tenure with SuperSport. The Kagiso-born mentor will be hoping to wave the magic wand he had while at SuperSport – just for the MTN8 silverware.
The league champions have their name engraved on all the major trophies domestically and continentally, but the only gap in their impressive trophy cabinet is that in 12 years the Top Eight title has been elusive.
Saturday’s Polokwane battle between City and Highlands will be concluded with a second leg at Makholung Stadium on the September 19.
Highlands coach Owen da Gama know his men need to fight with all they have to avoid a heavy defeat by a well organised Polokwane side.
The incumbent at the Lions of the North is gunning for the second title of his career. His first was when he led Silver Stars to their maiden triumph in top-flight football in 2006.
Can he do it again? Polokwane won’t allow that to happen easily. Zlatko Krmpotic has enjoyed a good start with Polokwane and will be looking to land his first piece of silverware in his debut season in South Africa.
The two former National First Division champions know that R8 million is at stake, so the scene is set for fireworks.