Sport

How teams will square off in TKO openers

How teams will square off in TKO openers
On Friday the curtain will rise on this season’s Telkom Knockout competition as the 16 Premiership teams square off for the second trophy of the season.

Here we give you a match-by-match look-ahead to the first-round encounters:

Maritzburg United v Bidvest Wits

Friday, 8pm

Friday night football returns to the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg, with the home side hoping to build on their two-game winning streak in domestic football.

However, they welcome to their lair an in-form Wits side who’ve won their last four matches in the Premiership and are sitting second on the log with 15 points, four adrift from pacesetters Kaizer Chiefs.

Qualifying for the quarter-finals will mean a lot for both sides with Maritzburg looking to make it at least as far as they did last season, while Wits are looking for their first trophy in two seasons.

Cape Town CITY v Kaizer CHIEFS

Saturday, 3pm

No doubt the biggest fixture of the round of 16, expect fireworks when the Citizens hosts Chiefs at the Cape Town Stadium.

City have endured a roller-coaster start to their domestic campaign, having been win-less in their last five matches, while they barely put up a fight to defend their MTN8 crown as Polokwane City defeated them 2-0 in the quarter-finals.

Chiefs, on the other hand, travel to Cape Town with ample confidence as they sit summit of the log standings with 19 points, having already got the better of City in a 2-1 come-from-behind league victory in August.

Golden ARROWS v Polokwane CITY

Saturday, 3pm

Sitting seventh on the Premiership standings with 10 points, it’s been a season of ups and downs for Arrows, who last tasted domestic success via the MTN8 10 years ago.

Coach Steve Komphela hasn’t been a fortunate man when it comes to silverware either, but in 2017 he did lead Chiefs to the Telkom Knockout final only to lose to Mamelodi Sundowns.

Komphela has another opportunity to bag his first silverware as coach, but he’ll have to get past an invigorated Polokwane City, who’ll be hoping to dust themselves off from the MTN8 semi-final heartbreak to Highlands Park.

Orlando PIRATES v STELLENBOSCH FC

Saturday, 6pm

Following the resignation of coach Micho Sredojevic, Pirates have gone from being title contenders to a side that appears to be in a reconstruction phase.

The Sea Robbers are eighth on the log standings with nine points, having only managed one win, one loss and one draw in the last three matches.

Sure, being drawn against the Stellies makes them favourites but the Capetonians’ recent 2-0 win against Polokwane City means Rulani Mokwena’s troops should prepare themselves for a long night at the Orlando Stadium.

SUPERSPORT v BAROKA FC

Saturday, 8.15pm

Fresh from being crowned MTN8 champions, SuperSport are on cloud nine. But if they fail to guard against complacency, Baroka, the defending champions of the Telkom Knockout, will bring them down to earth.

It’s been six seasons since the now-defunct Platinum Stars won two successive trophies - the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout - but if there’s any team that can achieve that feat it’s SuperSport.

Coach Kaitano Tembo’s men have developed a camaraderie that has seen them stand head and shoulders above their counterparts, and the kind of for that could see them challenge for the Premiership title this season.

Mamelodi SUNDOWNS v AMAZULU

Sunday, 3pm

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has openly admitted that their interests lie in the Premiership and on the continent.

However, there’s no doubt winning the Knockout won’t give the 2016 CAF Coach of the Year sleepless nights, considering that it’s doable with the personnel at his disposal.

Usuthu, who’ve shown immense progress under new coach, Jozef Vukusic, won’t be a walk in the park though.

HIGHLANDS Park v Black LEOPARDS

Sunday, 3pm

Owen da Gama, who is an astute coach, was quick to laud his troops for their impressive exploits during the MTN8 campaign despite his Highlands team suffering losing to SuperSport in the final.

And that’s why the Telkom Knockout, a trophy that Da Gama won with the now-defunct Silver Stars in 2007, will give them a chance to grab that first piece of silverware.

Leopards though are set to come out guns blazing, especially under the mentorship of Luc Eymael, who led Free State Stars to their first silverware, the 2018 Nedbank Cup, in 23 years.

CHIPPA United v Bloemfontein CELTIC

Tuesday, Oct 22, 7.30pm

With Chippa’s trigger-happy chairman Siviwe Mpengesi having already sent two coaches, Clinton Larsen and Duran Francis, packing this season, new man Norman Mapeza is clear about the boss’s mandate.

The TKO may not necessarily be on his to-do list, but there’s no doubt that a win over Celtic in Mdantsane, at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium, will help his cause.

Phunya Selele, who won this tournament in 2012, are also looking for their own reward having kept their heads held up high despite the club’s financial woes last season.

@MihlaliBaleka