MTN8: R8 million, and the winner pockets it all

2019-10-02 13:00

Reaching the final of the MTN8 will mean nothing to whomever loses the once-off match on Saturday.

The loser of the match between Highlands Park and SuperSport United will go home the same way the other seven teams who fell by the wayside from the quarterfinals did – with only R800 000 to show for their efforts – while the champions will pocket R8 million.

The season-opening competition is seen as a get-rich-quick scheme as clubs need only four matches to claim the jackpot.

The question is, who will be left standing between Highlands and SuperSport?

Playing in their third successive MTN8 final should make United favourites to lift the Wafa Wafa trophy, but that is not a guarantee.

Last season’s losing finalist will be hoping to make amends after failing to defend the title they won two seasons ago.

Coach Kaitano Tembo knows that reaching another cup final won’t mean anything if he loses.

Until last weekend’s surprise loss to Polokwane City, SuperSport were the team that was most in form, having lost only once – in their opening league match to Mamelodi Sundowns.

They had been on a roll, having beaten Orlando Pirates and also avenging their Sundowns loss in the MTN8 semis on their way to the final.

But their wheels came off against City, and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from that defeat.

To his credit, Tembo resurrected Thamsanqa Gabuza’s career as the ex-Orlando Pirates striker seems to have found a new lease of life under the Zimbabwean mentor. Gabuza has been a revelation since joining Matsatsantsa a Pitori in the off season and Highlands would be well aware of his threats in front of the goal. But Highlands need to police Bradley Grobler, who has come back strongly this season, banging in goals for Matsatsantsa a Pitori.

However, SuperSport should be wary of Highlands, who are chasing their maiden cup glory.

Owen Da Gama’s Lions of the North have got nothing to lose and will go to the game as underdogs – on paper, but football is not played on paper.

Peter Shalulile will carry the hopes of Da Gama’s side upfront, knowing that goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni is capable of stopping everything at the back.

But the big question is, who, between Dean Furman and Bevan Fransman, will lift the trophy?

Meanwhile, the PSL has postponed two Absa Premiership mid-week fixtures involving the two finalists to give them enough time to prepare for Saturday’s final.

The two fixtures, which were pencilled in for Wednesday, have been moved to October 29 and 30, the dates initially reserved for catch-up fixtures.

Highlands Park was scheduled to host Orlando Pirates on Wednesday.

This fixture has been moved to October 29, and SuperSport United – who were to face Bloemfontein Celtic at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium on Wednesday – will now play on October 30.

Saturday’s final at Orlando Stadium kicks off at 6pm.

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February 23 2020