The 2017 edition of the MTN 8 “wafa wafa” Cup gets underway tomorrow (Friday) with defending champions Bidvest Wits taking on Golden Arrows at Bidvest Stadium in the first of four quarter final matches.
The “Clever Boys”, who are also the 2016/7 Premier League champions, would want to make a bold statement that last season’s achievements were no fluke. Coach Gavin Hunt has strengthened his squad with the most notable addition being the arrival of veteran Steven Pienaar who has plied his trade in some of the best leagues in the world such as the English Premier League as well as the Germany Bundesliga.
Arrows go into tomorrow’s match as underdogs but Hunt’s charges will underestimate Abafana Bes’thende at their own peril.
Kick off is at 20h00.
Benni McCarthy will have his maiden competitive match in the dugout when Cape Town City squares off against inconsistent Polokwane City at Cape Town Stadium at 15h00. Going by last season’s form book, CTC might just be facing the weakest team among the Top 8 and should easily throw their name for the semi-final draw.
The highlight of the quarter finals will, without a doubt, be a mouth-watering clash between Steve Komphela’s Kaizer Chiefs and Eric Tinkler’s Supersport United at Moses Mabhida Stadium at 20h15. Both coaches have a lot to prove in this match with the pressure seemingly more pronounced on Komphela’s shoulder as he seeks to shake off the monkey from his back by winning a major silverware.
A loss for Amakhosi is likely to awaken calls for Komphela’s head from sections of the supporters.
Similarly, Tinkler will be hoping to prove to his new paymasters that he is capable of filling Stuart Baxter’s big shoes.
With the benefit of having participated in the CAF Confederation Cup in the off-season, Matsatsantsa aPitori will fancy their chances of dumping Amakhosi out of the MTN 8 Cup while, on their part, Chiefs will be hoping the momentum from the Carling Black Label Cup win over Soweto rivals, Orlando Pirates, will propel them into another pre-season cup glory.
The last semi-final candidate will be decided on Sunday when reigning African champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, face Maritzburg United in what should be an easy win for the Pitso Mosimane-coached side. However, United have proved to be a plucky side capable of causing an upset if they are on song.
The Brazilians have not been on top of their game since the departure of Keagan Dolly and the ultimate collapse of the feared CBD partnership but Mosimane has proved beyond doubt that he is a shrewd mentor who can choke up a victory even on his worst day.