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Downs, Bucs out to end MTN8 drought

Downs, Bucs out to end MTN8 drought
The big guns are out to end their trophy drought in this year’s edition of the MTN8 and the draw presents a treat for the fans today.

Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates are going through a barren patch in the eight-team knockout tournament.

The Brazilians have a date with Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium tonight (8.15pm) in the quarter-finals of the Wafa Wafa, while the Buccaneers will entertain Highlands Park at Orlando Stadium in Soweto (6pm).

Sundowns have been dominant in South African football under the tenure of Pitso Mosimane but the one cup that has eluded them in the last 12 years is the MTN8.

In seven years, Sundowns have amassed four league titles, the CAF Champions League, CAF Super Cup, Telkom Knockout and the Nedbank Cup.

The MTN8, which is the shortest of all these competitions, is missing from Mosimane’s haul of medals.

The Brazilians’ last triumph in this tournament was in 2007 under the leadership of Gordon Igesund. It was against the Sea Robbers. Brent Carelse netted the winner.

Mosimane has struggled in this cup since he took over from Johan Neeskens in 2012. The former Bafana coach came close in 2016 but succumbed 3-0 to Bidvest Wits at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

In the past decade Sundowns have reached one MTN8 final. Mosimane and his troops will be desperate to get this monkey off their back and land this elusive trophy.

The Buccaneers are also on a similar mission although their MTN8 record is better. The last time they enjoyed glory in the competition was in 2011 under the regime of the Brazilian coach Julio Leal.

Pirates achieved a treble that season as they captured the Telkom Knockout and the Absa Premiership title.

The Buccaneers were also the winners in 2010 when they defeated Moroka Swallows in the final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Like they did in 2011/12, Pirates achieved the treble in 2010/11.

The Sea Robbers haven’t won a cup since 2014 when they lifted the Nedbank Cup at Moses Mabhida where they swept past Bidvest Wits.

The Happy People have come close on many occasions. In 2015, Pirates reached two cup finals but lost both.

Kaizer Chiefs got the better of the Buccaneers in the MTN8 final at Moses Mabhida thanks to a header by defender Tefu Mashamaite. Pirates also lost the CAF Confederation Cup final against Tunisian powerhouse, Etoile du Sahel.

The Buccaneers were also the runner-up in 2016 and 2017 in the final of the Nedbank Cup. On both occasions they were beaten by SuperSport United.

It was the same story last season against Baroka in the Telkom Knockout final at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. The Sea Robbers lost on penalties.

Their coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic is under immense pressure. He is in the last year of his contract with the Buccaneers. The Serbian is yet to deliver silverware for the club in his two-year stay.

Pirates will be out to reclaim the MTN8 they won back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 and maybe go on to win the treble, like they did in those two seasons.

@minenhlecr7Independent on Saturday